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Advising customer how to clean silver


#1

Recently I have been fabricating silver pendants that I put on
beaded chains. These are stone beads alternated with pebble shaped
silver beads. When these silver beads become tarnished it is almost
impossible to clean them with silver polish or silver cloth. Tarnex
dip would seem to be too harsh for the stone beads. Any suggestions
as to how to tell customers to clean them?

Thanks
Ann


#2

Hi Ann,

Possibly there are chemicals in or on the stones that accelerates
the silver tarnishing but I would suspect that the stone beads
abrading the silver “pebbles” If that’s the case, it would certainly
be difficult to polish the roughened silver with polish and a cloth.

Try placing a small spacer between the silver and adjacent stone
beads to prevent abrasion.

HTH
Pam
Pam Chott
www.songofthephoenix.com


#3

Ann,

First and foremost would be preventive measures. There have been
many good suggestions recently from the group members about storage
as well as using Argentium Silver.

Also it would be good to educate your clients about not wearing
their Sterling Silver while they are doing things that might cause
them to perspire or while they are using harsh household cleaners.
Also recommend that they wipe off their Silver with a cloth after
use and before storage.

As for how to clean them once they are tarnished. I would first ask
the question of what do you have them strung on? If you are using
cord there is very little that can be done except using a treated
polishing cloth. If you are using a nylon coated wire you can try
using Baking Soda. Wet your fingers and them dip them into a
container with Baking Soda, rub the Sterling beads with your thumb
and first finger. Once they are clean simply rinse in clean water
and dry them. Keep in mind that Baking Soda is a mild abrasive so
if your pieces are high polished they will have a slight satin
finish when you do this.

Good Luck
Greg DeMark
email: greg@demarkjewelry.com
Website: www.demarkjewelry.com
Link Exchanges Welcomed


#4
Tarnex dip would seem to be too harsh for the stone beads. 

Ann, using Tarn-X on your beads depends on what stone they’re made
of. Agates, jaspers, and other pretty much non-porous stones are not
affected by Tarn-X. The bottle says not to use it on things like
pearls, opals, etc.

Have you tried other silver dips (with ingredients different from
Tarn-X)?

All the best,
Judy Bjorkman


#5

Hello Ann,

lots of my customers ask me the same question: how do you clean
Sterling Silver jewelry?

I always recommend toothpaste with whitening. Put a little bit in
your palm, add some water and stir it into a paste, then use an old
toothbrush and rub the paste onto the jewelry piece. When you are
done, rinse it off, dry it and you will have a clean, well smelling
piece which won’t curse any irritation on sensitive skin which you’d
get with Silver cloth or Silver dip, both of which are soaked with
chemicals. It is a cheap and healthy way to clean all jewelry with
or without stones. Hope that helps,

Edith
Edith Schneider Jewelry
P.O.Box 52001
Palo Alto, CA 94303
es@edithschneider.com
www.edithschneider.com
(650) 813 9755


#6

Hi Ann,

A number of years ago there was a thread on Orchid from which I
picked up a receipe that appears to be safe for the silver necklaces
that I crochet which include pearls and anything else I find. I print
it up using the form for business cards on colored heavyish paper,
there are 10 to a page, cut them up into business card size
rectangles and include one with each purchase. This will change as I
now use the Stuller bags as well.

Over time the silver will tarnish. This process may be inhibited by
storing your necklace in a plastic bag with a scrunched up piece of
aluminum foil. Change the foil every 6 months. When tarnish does
occur - lay a piece of foil, shiny side up in a container. Add 1 TBS
of baking soda, 1 tsp of salt and some boiling water. Dip the
necklace for a few seconds so that it touches the foil and rinse
well with water.

This appears to be safe for everything.
Betty BelmonteOn Sun, 31 Oct 2004 19:14:52 -0600 (CST), Edith Schneider eschne@mac.com wrote:

Hello Ann,

lots of my customers ask me the same question: how do you clean
Sterling Silver jewelry?

I always recommend toothpaste with whitening. Put a little bit in
your palm, add some water and stir it into a paste, then use an old
toothbrush and rub the paste onto the jewelry piece. When you are
done, rinse it off, dry it and you will have a clean, well smelling
piece which won’t curse any irritation on sensitive skin which you’d
get with Silver cloth or Silver dip, both of which are soaked with
chemicals. It is a cheap and healthy way to clean all jewelry with
or without stones. Hope that helps,

Edith
Edith Schneider Jewelry
P.O.Box 52001
Palo Alto, CA 94303
es@edithschneider.com
www.edithschneider.com
(650) 813 9755


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#7

Louise, the Silver cleaner you can buy has a lot of chemical stuff in
it and you shouldn’t use it with stones, pearls, amber and such
because it could damage them. Toothpaste is just so much "healthier"
and cheaper and better smelling and (my main reason to use it) it
doesn’t irritate your skin.

Try it out, it really works,

Edith
Edith Schneider Jewelry
P.O.Box 52001
Palo Alto, CA 94303
es@edithschneider.com
www.edithschneider.com
(650) 813 9755


#8

This thread started a while back and it seemed that the responses
quickly moved from how to ‘clean’ a piece to how to ‘store’ a piece
and keep it from tarnishing. There are a number of methods used to
store sterling jewelry that work quite well provided you put the
jewelry away clean and free of tarnish to begin with - which is where
the problem begins and which is the question my customers most often
ask and which, by the way, can often make or break a sale. With the
styles today mixing so many components, especially sensitive ones
such as pearls and beads that don’t hold color against chemical
cleaners - in small, intricate combinations - it is nearly impossible
to get into those tiny areas with a polishing cloth or when the act
of polishing might ‘weaken’ or mess up the piece or when a frosted
or matte finish is used that a polishing cloth would change. Many
times the piece cannot be dipped because of pearls or beads. I can
easily tell the customer how to store the piece, but once worn and
exposed to sweat, humidity, perfumes and lotions, etc. how do you
tell them to clean it and remove tarnish before putting it away?

This is a real problem for me not only in terms of telling customers
how to do it, but also after or during shows in the summer, when
customers are handling pieces and trying them on and their sweaty
fingerprints and mine get all over it-- or when I get back home -
having to clean everything and get it ready for the next one. It
takes up so much of my time - I don’t blame customers for wanting an
easy method - they have better things to do.

Thanks, Grace


#9

Hi Grace,

I’ve been using “Simple Green” household cleaning product (available
at Vons, Costco…) on all my silver, and freshwater
pearls for 5 years. It’s not safe to soak the pearls in this
solution, but I spray the concentrate on the pieces to clean and
quickly rinse and dry them throughly. I will usually hang them after
drying them to make sure that they are completely dry before
returning them to my case or a baggy. I always clean my pieces with
this method before shipping to a store so that the pieces are free of
any oils, etc. This provides them with a bright, shiny piece until it
sells. I have informed all of my stores about the product and some
are better than others about staying on top of the process.

I hope this helps,
Reba


#10

Hi Grace. The easiest method I’ve found is the ol’ “washing soda and
aluminum foil” trick. I put off posting it since I thought somebody
else would’ve by now, so here goes:

First, get a box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. This is a detergent
booster (not a detergent, per se) and is not the same as baking
soda. You’ll find it in your grocery store with the cleaning
products. Mine stores it right next to the dishwasher soap.

Dissolve a tablespoon or so to each cup of warm water (or as much as
will dissolve). Then, place a piece of aluminum foil into a
container large enough for the sterling silver item to fit inside.
Put the tarnished item on the foil, making certain it touches the
foil, and pour the washing soda solution into the container.
Usually, you can see some “bubbling” action when the soda/foil
combination attacks the tarnish. If the piece is heavily tarnished,
it may take a few treatments, replacing the used solution with new.
I’ve found that when the water turns gray, the action of the
solution has been spent and it’s time to replace it. Extreme tarnish
may take many soakings before becoming tarnish-free. Some of the
heavily tarnished pieces I’ve tried needed additional hand polishing
with rouge cloth.

I’m not aware of any gemstone that can be harmed by this method, but
anything is possible. Try it first before recommending to your
customers.

James in SoFl


#11

I have used the aluminum foil method with some success on pieces that
are predominantly metal. I have read the past posts on both but
wasn’t sure of the effect on delicate materials. I will have to try
experimenting on various other materials, stones, pearls etc. to see
if there is any ill effect before advising a customer to do the
same. Have never tried Simple Green and will experiment with that
too. I gather it cleans well and assume it also removes tarnish.
Thanks everyone for the input.

Best,
Grace


#12
   the Silver cleaner you can buy has a lot of chemical stuff in it
and you shouldn't use it with stones, pearls, amber and such
because it could damage them. Toothpaste is just so much
"healthier" and cheaper and better smelling and (my main reason to
use it) it doesn't irritate your skin. 

Edith,

the vast majority of stones and metals will not be harmed by
anything in silver cleaner. Even pearls and amber, which do need
some care, will be OK if you don’t soak too long. Amber needs to
avoid ammonia and heat, while pearls need to avoid acids.

By contrast, tooth paste often contains abrasives. Mild ones, but
abrasives none the less. Hard stones don’t mind, but you can take
the polish off of amber, and certainly take the polish off of silver,
with many tooth pastes. if you use the clear gel types, which may
have less abrasive natures, you might be OK. But still, toothpaste
is generally NOT a good idea with jewelry, at least not if it’s got
any sort of high polish anywhere. Now, once silver jewelry has been
worn a while, it may not have any high polish left, so perhaps
you’re doing no harm. But please don’t consider toothpaste as
totally benign. This may be especially true with gold jewelry. The
areas inside and under a stone setting, for example, were likely
polished before the stone was set, and, being protected from
abrasion, might get dirty, but will retain their polish once
correctly cleaned. If a customer digs out the dirt in their diamond
ring with toothpaste and a toothbrush, those nicely polished areas
around their diamonds can end up dulled significantly.

The notion that silver cleaner has lots of “chemicals” and is
therefore somehow bad, is unfortunate. EVERYTHING has chemicals,
including the most organic and natural foods. What’s important is
which ones. Toothpaste is also full of chemicals. They happen to be
ones deemed safe in the mouth, but chemicals even so. There are a
number of different types of silver cleaners. Not all are
particularly irritating. The dip type tarnish removers such as
Tarnex contain mostly just thiourea, not lots of chemicals. But that
one is irritating, certainly, and the item needs to be well rinsed
afterward. But it leaves no film or residue, so rinsing should solve
any problems. In use, rubber kitchen gloves will prevent any
problems during cleaning itself. And that one is the most problematic
of the silver cleaners. Even simpler is the home method of washing
soda and aluminum, which has similar results but no irritation, at
least no more than any simple laundry detergent. . Semichrome paste
polish is formulated just for polishing metal, and leaves a high
polish when you’re done, without any especially irritating
ingredients. And the non-rouge (often yellow or gray) colored
polishing cloths also contain little that could be irritating at all,
yet do a nice job with the metal

HTH
Peter Rowe


#13
         the vast majority of stones and metals will not be harmed
by anything in silver cleaner.  Even pearls and amber, which do
need some care, will be OK if you don't soak too long.. The dip
type tarnish removers such as Tarnex contain mostly just thiourea,
not lots of chemicals.  But that one is irritating, certainly, and
the item needs to be well rinsed afterward.  But it leaves no film
or residue, so rinsing should solve...." 

Peter,

I notice you mention Tarnex as one possible cleaner. I have not
been happy with Tarnex and wonder if anyone else experiences the same
problems. It seems like every time I clean a piece with Tarnex, the
next time I take the piece out it is ‘brown’ or already tarnished in
many places. I follow the directions, rinse and dry thoroughly after
applying so I don’t know what the problem could be. And I have also
noticed that Tarnex can remove color from some glass beads.
Haggerty’s Silver Foam does not seem to have these problems although
it does not remove tarnish very well. So I have not been 100% happy
with any commercial cleaners and certainly not happy enough to tell
customer’s to use them. No direct experience, but I would imagine
the washing soda method would not have these problems. Maybe this
has been discussed before and I will look at previous posts but what
exactly is happening in the liquid with the aluminum foil that causes
it to remove tarnish without being a harsh chemical?

No chemistry Background!!
Grace


#14

Peter,

of course there are chemicals in everything you use, even in your
toothpaste. But isn’t it a matter of quantity in the end? Why should
you wear protection gloves to handle the jewelry cleaner and why is
it not necessary when you use toothpaste? I use toothpaste a lot,
not only for my teeth but also for jewelry and I will always
recommend it to my customers because of my own experience and very
good feedback from my customers. So far I never had any problems
with Amber, Pearls or Coral.

Edith

Edith Schneider Jewelry
P.O.Box 52001
Palo Alto, CA 94303
es@edithschneider.com
www.edithschneider.com
(650) 813 9755


#15

Hi Grace,

I read your response-post and Simple Green does not remove advanced
stages of tarnish. I clean once I notice my samples getting the
yellow “haze” on the sterling pieces. The key to keeping silver
free from tarnish is to not let it get to the grey stage. At that
stage, you’ll need some silver paste or possibly one of the other
techniques and a lot more time. I’m recommending that you keep the
pieces free from oil, etc as often as possible. This, of course,
means when it is out of your hands and in the hands of others, there
are no promises it will remain tarnish free… Peter Rowe posted
his response about acid being the chemical that harms pearls. I
believe Simple Green is an alcohol based product. I’ve never
damaged a pearl, fresh or others, with this product and I have
accidently left a silver/freshwater piece soaking in the concentrate
for 2-3 hours with no damage to the pearls seen with the naked eye.

Cheers, Reba


#16
It seems like every time I clean a piece with Tarnex, the next
time I take the piece out it is 'brown' or already tarnished in
many places. 

Apparently, Tarnex eventually becomes supersaturated with the
tarnish it has removed and begins redepositing this material instead
of removing it. Get a fresh bottle and pour a smallish amount into
another container. Use it until you start to see redeposition and
then toss it and refill with fresh Tarnex.

Beth


#17
I use toothpaste a lot, not only for my teeth but also for jewelry
and I will always recommend it to my customers because of my own
experience and very good feedback from my customers. So far I never
had any problems with Amber, Pearls or Coral. 

Toothpaste works in part because it is a mild abrasive. It may not
hurt organic gems in the short term, but it certainly would with
repetitive use.

Beth


#18

I tell my customers to throw that nasty silver paste away. Use Arm
and Hammer washing soda, followed with a buff of the polishing cloth.

LaVerne


#19

Reba,

The problem with Organic Gems such as Pearls is that the damage done
by chemicals may not show up immediately.

Traces of the chemical could stay in the drill hole or in the porous
Nacre layers and show up down the road in the form of discoloring or
damage to the luster.

It is best to use the least aggressive means possible to clean
delicate Gems.

Greg DeMark
email: greg@demarkjewelry.com
Website: www.demarkjewelry.com


#20
    Maybe this has been discussed before and I will look at
previous posts but what exactly is happening in the liquid with the
aluminum foil that causes it to remove tarnish without being a
harsh chemical? 

I don’t have a chemistry background either Grace, but I think I can
explain at least part of it. Washing Soda is Sodium Carbonate, an
alkaline substance. Alkalis attack aluminum and, if I remember
correctly, will release hydrogen gas from the tarnish sulfides when
put in solution together. This chemical action is what removes the
sulfide tarnish from sterling silver, but won’t attack most common
gem materials. I also remember that the silver must be in contact
with the aluminum for this to work, and the reaction we need takes
place on the surface of the silver. Chemistry aficionados please
correct me if I’m wrong.

I remember someone mentioning that steel and hematite will react
unfavorably to this treatment, so “caveat gluteus maximus” on those
materials.

James in SoFl