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Keeping silver jewellery clean is often just as hard as untangling necklaces, matching earrings and locating a butterfly fastener in the carpet.

As any accessory lover will know, it’s one thing keeping your box of precious jewels tidy in a drawer or on a stand, let alone making sure they’re tarnish-free.

Over time, jewellery – whether it’s chains, earrings, bracelets or rings – can wear down and become discoloured as a result of the metals reacting with moisture, acids and oils in the air.

How a piece of jewellery tarnishes completely depends on its composition (think gold, metal, tungsten) and its environment, so before you splurge on your must-have accessories this season, it’s crucial to learn how to keep them in top condition.

We spoke to Marisa Hordern, Missoma founder and creative director, to find out her top tips for keeping silver jewellery clean.

Looking for a way to clean your silver chain in a matter of minutes? Look no further because this article will provide you with tips on cleaning your silver jewelry.

Silver chains are not as easily tarnished as gold ones. However, this doesn’t mean you can slack off when cleaning your silver jewelry. On the contrary, there are methods to clean them without exerting too much time and effort.

Silver jewelry that is constantly used can be polished just a few times. It is the finer-quality silver jewelry that is often unused and kept in boxes that need constant cleaning. Follow the methods provided below that may help you in removing the tarnish and restoring your silver pieces.


Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry

Sterling silver jewelry is a high-quality silver piece of jewelry that is commonly used. Just like gold jewelry, sterling silver isn’t pure silver and is usually about 7.5% copper. The copper enables the jewelry to be stronger than the one made of pure silver.

However, this 7.5% copper makes the jewelry easier to tarnish. If you’re unsure if your jewelry is Sterling silver or not, try checking the hallmark.

Hallmarks are usually placed in the clasp that says Sterling, S/S, 9.25, 9/1000, Sterling 9.25, etc. If it doesn’t have one of these hallmarks, chances are it’s a fake and is probably only silver-plated.

Dishwashing soap and warm water can also clean Sterling silver jewelry. But if it doesn’t, you can try using methods with the help of kitchen essentials like baking soda and the like.

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Use of Baking soda

Make a paste with baking soda and warm water with a ratio of 2:1. For every 1 part of water, there are two parts of baking soda. After mixing, gently rub the paste onto the jewelry. Let it dry and remove the tarnish. Rinse the residue and dry off the jewelry using a silver cloth and microfiber towel. If you don’t have baking soda, try using cornstarch.

Lemon and Olive Oil

Just mix 1 teaspoon of olive oil and half a cup of lemon juice. Get a clean cloth and dip it in the solution. TO clean it off, gently rub the mixture onto the silver jewelry until it shines. After, rinse the jewelry and dry it using a silver cloth or microfiber towel.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

When using vinegar and baking soda, make sure that the ratio is right. Since you’ll be soaking it for a few hours, and you do not want the jewelry to be tarnished more. So, mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda and mix it with half a cup of white vinegar.

Next, soak the jewelry in the solution and let it sit for 2-3 hours. Finally, rinse it and polish the jewelry properly with a silver cloth or microfiber towel.

Use of toothpaste

The last method in using kitchen essentials to clean off the tarnish in silver chains is by using toothpaste. First, apply a small amount of diluted toothpaste to a soft-bristle brush, then rub it gently on the silver jewelry.

Also, remember not to use whitening toothpaste because that will only make things worse. Lastly, do not use this method on silver-plated jewelry because it causes chemical reactions that will probably lead to a series of allergies and skin irritation, among others.

The above methods are so easy that you can do it yourself. But, if these methods aren’t enough, others require more work but will help better. For example, tarnishes in silver are often a result of a chemical reaction between silver and sulfur atoms. The result is silver sulfide.

If this is the case, you’ll need a method that involves a chemistry perspective. Don’t worry, you’ll get great results. You just won’t get a pleasant smell in the process.

  1. Get a large bowl or pan. Fill the entire surface with aluminum foil.
  2. When the aluminum foil is placed, add boiling water into the pan.
  3. Mix 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt and a quarter cup of baking soda. And stir it until bubbles forms.
  4. After mixing, put the jewelry in the solution and mix it well. Make sure not to hit the silver pieces together or onto the pan.
  5. Leave it for 5 minutes.
  6. When the time is up, remove it from the pan and dry it with a silver cloth or microfiber towel to remove the tarnish as gently as possible.
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What causes silver chains to become tarnished?

A number of factors can cause silver chains to become tarnished including perfumes and body lotions but also sweat, exposure to air and even sunlight. Over time, any sterling silver jewellery exposed to air will tarnish.

Tarnishing is a reaction to moisture and sulphur in the air causing a thin dark layer to form on the surface. Silver tarnishes faster in areas with high humidity and air pollution. But remember that chemicals like hairspray, perfume, deodorant, body lotion and bleach can speed up the tarnishing process.

Missoma plate all its Sterling silver jewellery with Rhodium as it acts like an anti-tarnish.

What is the best way to clean a silver chain?

You can clean it using warm water, washing up liquid and a small bowl.

  • Mix liquid until bubbles form, add the jewellery to water and let it soak (for up to 10 minutes).
  • Take the jewellery out, rinse it with water, leave it to dry.
  • You can follow this up by cleaning it with a soft microfibre cloth. If your jewellery is particularly tarnished, I recommend using silver dip (available to buy here) as it’s a lot quicker and regular cleaning protects it from discolouration.

If your chain has any stones in it – such as pearls – please be careful as they are porous and should not be put in water. Always check what you’re about to clean.

Should you ever clean silver chains with toothpaste or baking soda?

This is a hotly debated topic in jewellery, and it can be tempting to clean a chain with toothpaste or baking soda if you don’t have access to proper silver cleaner.

In my experience, pieces are best cleaned with the specially-formulated solution, as extra chemicals from the toothpaste or baking soda could cause further damage. So, if you can help it, keep the toothpaste and baking soda for teeth brushing and baking!

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How do you clean silver that has turned black?

If jewellery has turned black, the quickest way to clean it is using a silver dip.

Place your jewellery in the silver dip for 10-20 seconds, remove it and wash it with water then leave to dry.

You can follow this up by cleaning it with a soft polishing cloth. Don’t leave it in the dip too long though and always follow the instructions on the packet.

What is the best way to prevent tarnish on silver chains?

Always play by the ‘last on, first off’ rule.

When you’re not wearing the chains, store them away somewhere which isn’t in direct sunlight. The biggest thing to remember is to avoid washing in them, or indeed swimming. Also, try to remember not to spray your jewellery with your perfumes, or let it come into contact with skincare (eg moisturisers) and any other beauty products as it’ll help them stay shiny for longer.

When you remove your jewellery for the day, quickly wipe over it with a reusable cotton pad or a soft microfibre cloth. This will help to remove any excess oils and keep it in tip-top shape to put back on the next day.

How often should you clean a silver chain?

Once a month for extra-shiny pieces that will always look gleaming.

I set a reminder in my calendar or phone and use it as my down time; self-care for my jewellery.


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