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Cleaning of Sterling Silver Jewelry


#1

I have experimented with different cleaning methods for Sterling
Silver Jewelry but I’d like to find something better. I’m interested
to hear if anyone has suggestions on what works best and does not
damage stones that might be set in silver such as turquoise, etc.
Polishing cloth seems to work ok but not on chains or intricate
pieces. The cleaning solution is toxic and can damage stones. Is
there something better? Ultrasonic? Ionic?

Thanks in advance!
Inna
http://www.detailjewelry.com


#2

Inna,

The simplest and, to my mind, safest method is:

Use an aluminum pie plate or a pyrex dish with a sheet of aluminum
foil in the bottom. Add very hot (almost boiling water). Lay your
jewelry so that it’s on the aluminum part of the surface. Sprinkle in
baking soda (liberally). Allow to bubble away. Rinse and repeat if
necessary.

The chemical reaction that takes place is like a battery. It removes
the oxides (tarnish) and smells a little sulphury as it’s bubbling
away.

For chains and liquid silver, you can also make a thin paste of
baking soda and water and rub it gently onto the piece with your
hands. Allow to soak and then add it to the aluminum tray with the
very hot water.

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller


#3
Is there something better? Ultrasonic? Ionic? 

I bought an Ionic cleaner about 2 months ago and it works great for
removing tarnish. It’s great for cleaning up chains. No damage to
stones that I have observed. It’s supposed to be safe for opals and
pearls although I have not personally cleaned any.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado
http://rockymountainwonders.com


#4
I have experimented with different cleaning methods for Sterling
Silver Jewelry but I'd like to find something better. 

Ionic works to remove tarnish, but doesn’t polish. There is no
one-size-fits-all solution. For chains, especially snake chain and
liquid silver which would clog up with paste polish, I swear by
putting a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) dry in your palm
and drawing the chain through it a few times, then rinse.

My favorite paste polish is 3M Tarnishield. It brightens very
nicely, and leaves a coating thatmakes fingerprints not leave
smudges. I use it as a last step on all my silver work.

My favorite cloth, as recommended here in the past, is Goddard’s
Long Shine (my hardware store carries it)

As an aside, I just arrived in Philadelphia to teach for four days,
and found that, in spite of being triple bagged, my Black Max
leaked. Most soaked into my polishing cloth. Like matter and
anti-matter…

Noel


#5

Buy a SPEED BRITE ionic cleaner (800) 874-2823 &/or start
rhodium-plating your silver jewelry.

Doug


#6

Inna, Karen,

“Use an aluminum pie plate or a pyrex dish with a sheet of aluminum
foil in the bottom. Add very hot (almost boiling water). Lay your
jewelry so that it’s on the aluminum part of the surface. Sprinkle in
baking soda (liberally). Allow to bubble away. Rinse and repeat if
necessary. … etc.”

The above advice is good. Except what you want to use is washing
soda. I guess baking soda will do but this is far better. “Line the
bottom of a deep, non-metallic, container with aluminum foil. Fill it
with hot water and add a handful of washing soda,… Place your
silver items in the pot, so they are touching the aluminum foil. You
will see the tarnish fade in a couple minutes… Washing soda is
similar, but a slightly different formula than baking soda. It has
been used for centuries for cleaning laundry.”

About $2 for a 3 lb. Box so its cheaper anyway. Not all stores carry
it, but will not be very hard to find it will be with the laundry
supplies. For this and for Jewelry Cleaning Solution see-


#7

Regarding ionic cleaners, if you use the baking soda and hot water
and aluminum foil trick and just add a battery, can’t you make an
ionic cleaner?


#8
Regarding ionic cleaners, if you use the baking soda and hot water
and aluminum foil trick and just add a battery, can't you make an
ionic cleaner? 

No, No, No not Baking Soda! It’s Arm and Hammer Supper Washing Soda
with aluminum foil!


#9
No, No, No not Baking Soda! It's Arm and Hammer Supper Washing
Soda with aluminum foil! 

Calgon water softener, liquid or powder works and is at most grocery
stores. We do use it every single day for every sterling silver
purchase.

Richard Hart


#10

I had also heard that salt worked. This is my question: is it just
an electrolyte that is required?


#11
Calgon water softener, liquid or powder works and is at most
grocery stores. We do use it every single day for every sterling
silver purchase. 

Actually, pretty much any mild alkali will work. It’s about shifting
the pH of the solution enough for the reaction to take place.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL


#12
Calgon water softener, liquid or powder works and is at most
grocery stores. We do use it every single day for every sterling
silver purchase. 

I was surprised at that, no reason why it wouldn’t, Ron wrote,
“Actually, pretty much any mild alkali will work. It’s about shifting
the pH of the solution enough for the reaction to take place.”

Actually washing soda, a non-metallic pan, aluminum foil touching
the silver, and hot to warm water is better. (Works fairly fast.)
This is why; it is safe on turquoise etc. Calgon and others contain
other chemicals. For quick (light) clean up use bar soap (unscented)
and an old toothbrush, water, scrub lightly, dry and buff up with
anything, paper towels work. Avoid dish soap (additives) and of
course anything that has cleansing cream or the like added.


#13
Actually washing soda, a non-metallic pan, aluminum foil touching
the silver, and hot to warm water is better. (Works fairly fast.)
This is why; it is safe on turquoise etc. Calgon and others
contain other chemicals. 

We have a retail store, we sell every gem material you can imagine
set in sterling silver and have used Calgon water softener, not bath
oil, and have never had one problem with any material that can be put
in water without damage. We have only tried this on about 250,000
pieces of sterling over 12 years. Calgon is very easy to find at the
grocery store. Calgon, water, salt, tin foil works instantly which I
consider fast enough.

Richard Hart


#14

Well, I have tried finding Calgon water softener, and we must not
have water that needs softening around here…none to be found! When
I ask, the clerks want to know if I want pool water softener. Do I?
Are they all the same? What chemical make up am I looking for?

Thanks!
Beth in SC


#15
We have a retail store, we sell every gem material you can imagine
set in sterling silver and have used Calgon water softener, not
bath oil, and have never had one problem with any material that can
be put in water without damage. We have only tried this on about
250,000 pieces of sterling over 12 years. Calgon is very easy to
find at the grocery store. Calgon, water, salt, tin foil works
instantly which I consider fast enough. 

Hi Richard…

How much of which does one use…?

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)


#16

Richard, you mention the Calgon and salt in your tin foil with (I’m
assuming) hot water. Could you say what your ratios are of Calgon,
salt & water? I have Calgon in both a box & a bottle, but I haven’t
gotten it to work for me yet. I was told quite a while back to use it
as part of a setup with a battery, but no matter how I set it up, it
made everything gross & gunky. Perhaps without the battery it would
work better. At other recent suggestions, I just got a box of A&H
washing soda, so I’ll try that, too. I’d love to have a way to clean
things when I’m being wary of the stone. I have some excellent dip
solutions, but they warn against pearls & other stones, as usual.

Lisa
Designs by Lisa Gallagher
www.lisagallagher.com


#17

Richard,

I hope you understand a reluctance to try that (Calgon, but will) on
natural turquoise. (One recommendation was dishwasher detergent, to
which I say no.) The other (washing soda) is tried and true. I do
have a few “scraps’” bits you can’t do a lot with, I could see then
how it does, i.e. test. I see no anticipated problem, this is not
corrosive as is dishwashing “soap.” Will not try soon as I have an
unopened box of borax washing soda.

I noticed you mentioned salt, could you tell us approximately how
much and how much Calgon water softener with about how much water.
Willing to try it out.


#18
No, No, No not Baking Soda! It's Arm and Hammer Supper Washing Soda
with aluminum foil! 

The last time we had this discussion on Orchid I did some tests.
Both baking soda (sodium bicarbonate and washing soda (sodium
carbonate) work just fine in this method. I could find very little
difference except washing soda was slightly faster.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#19
Well, I have tried finding Calgon water softener, and we must not
have water that needs softening around here....none to be found! 

How about the “Calgon - take me away!” bath additive?

Elaine
Metalsmith, Certified PMC instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#20

Hi Richard; I was just wondering of the ratios of calgon and salt to
water? thanks

Dave Owen