When I visit peoples homes I always love to check out their jewellery collections. Unfortunately a lot of people keep their jewellery in the worst of places, the bathroom. Not only do I not really want to hang out near the toilet to check out jewellery, there is a wide variety of other reasons not to keep your pieces in there. #1. Sterling silver tarnishes easily in a humid environment, with all the showering, toilet flushing and hopefully subsequent hand washing, there is a lot of moisture being continuously pumped into the air. #2 All kinds of cleaners, perfume, hairspray, along with a variety of other chemicals which are bad for metals and precious stones, are being sprayed and used in that closed in space and getting all over your jewellery pieces. Chemicals can not only cause silver to tarnish more rapidly, but can also cause corrosion and irreparable harm to many precious stones.

Polishing cloth, Zip polishing compound with mini mandrel, Shine Bright silver dip.
All available at Workingsilver

So now that you have removed your jewellery from the bathroom, I’m guessing you would like to know the proper way to store your pieces. Proper storage of your sterling silver jewellery pieces reduces or eliminates the need to clean them, yeah! However, if you have neglected your sterling silver, over time they will end up looking like mine do in the above photo. So sad, but I have a fix for that too.

Each of my jewellery pieces has its own cleaning challenges. For regular maintenance of your jewellery there is nothing better than a polishing cloth to gently and easily remove tarnish and bring back the luster of sterling silver. However, what all my pieces have in common is that they are too far gone for a polishing cloth to be enough to get the job done effectively.

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Rarely do I like to use harsh chemicals like Shine Bright to clean up jewellery as it strips your metal, and with continued use causes your pieces to tarnish faster. But for this linked bracelet its the right thing to use because it will clean up all the little hard to access areas with ease. After dipping and rinsing it well,  I  then tumbled it for an hour to bring back its polish.

I could do the same procedure with these rings, but I like the patina in the recesses. The chemicals get into all areas and would remove tarnish where I want it.  A final finishing polishing compound such as Zip will remove tarnish and small scratches from the surface, which is all I want. When using the large polishing wheel some of my patina was removed so I ended up using silver black anyway, but I did not need to tumble them.

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This opal ring has really taken a lot of wear and tear over the years and needs more TLC than I am willing to give it. What it needs is some light filing, emery, black star and then zip to remove all those scratches. That’s a lot of effort and a challenge with a large soft opal to work around. Simple polishing with Zip is not really enough but that’s all its getting right now, those scratches are a bit of any eyesore but its nice and shiny again at least!

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This chunky wide cuff I used to covet and wear quite often, so it has a significant amount of scratches. But that was a long time ago, it has since spent many years hanging out on top of my dresser and acquiring a thick black patina, with some questionable green spots of copper patina as well. It is stamped mexico 925, but I have reservations about its quality. .

The first thing to do is use a tooth brush and mild soap like ivory to scrub out dirt and the build up of patina between the squares. This cleaned it up a lot more than I anticipated, check out what a difference just doing this made in the below picture! To remove the scratches it needs some filing, emery, or at least black star or tipple e. I am a bit nervous about thinning out the metal on top, and sides of the hollow squares since I have no way to guage its thickness. Because of this I am going  to just use black star compound and the polishing wheel to remove most of the scratches, then use Zip ( rouge will also work) to remove finer scratches and give it a final polish.

After only scrubbing with a toothbrush and ivory soap under warm water

After black star and Zip, Wow what a difference!

Ahhhhh all done and looking spectacular again! Below is another look at their original state just for comparison.

So now that all my most neglected pieces have received some TLC, its time to store them properly so they don’t become this bad again…… in the next post I will tell you all about it.

Reprinted with permission from Working Silver