How to Remove Tarnish from Silver & Gold Jewellery

Has your precious metal jewellery lost its lustre? Many types of metals tarnish over time, which can leave our cherished necklaces, rings and earrings looking dull and a little off-colour.

But don’t worry, your jewellery isn’t ruined; it simply needs a little TLC. We’re going to show you how to remove tarnish from your silver and gold jewellery items and get them looking gift box-new again in no time.

Why Does Jewellery Tarnish?

Most gold and silver jewellery is made using alloyed metals and simply plated with gold or silver, due to the pure precious metals being too soft to be used on their own. It is these other alloyed metals, such as copper, that can cause the jewellery to tarnish over time. When these metals come into contact with the moisture and sulphur in the air, they oxidise and change colour, creating that discoloured tarnished look. All gold and silver jewellery that is made using a mixture of metals will tarnish gradually, but other elements such as high humidity and contact with substances like hair spray, perfume, deodorant and sweat can speed up the tarnishing process.

Can I Prevent Jewellery from Tarnishing?

There are a few tricks that can help prevent tarnishing or, at the very least, slow down the tarnishing process. You can:

  • Store your jewellery in a cool, dark place such as a jewellery organiser or jewellery box to keep it away from sunlight, heat and moisture.

  • Store individual pieces in their own zip-lock plastic bags to prevent scratching, removing as much air as possible from the bag before sealing.

  • Do not wear your jewellery in the shower or swimming pool and don’t leave it in the bathroom unprotected.

  • Wipe your jewellery clean with a soft, dry cloth after wearing to remove any traces of moisture or chemicals.

  • Store your jewellery with chalk or anti-tarnish paper strips to help absorb excess moisture from the air.

How to Remove Tarnish from Silver Jewellery

Ditch those bottles of noxious silver cleaning solution and try this clever little trick for cleaning your silver jewellery; it’s a cleaning project and a science project all in one. All you’ll need is a plastic container large enough to hold your silver jewellery, some boiling water, some aluminium foil and bicarbonate of soda (about 2 tablespoons per litre of water).

Step 1: Line your plastic container with a sheet of aluminium foil (make sure it is facing shiny side up)

Step 2: Fill your container with your boiling water and add the bicarbonate of soda

Step 3: Add your silver jewellery, making sure it is touching the aluminium foil sheet

Step 4: Wait a few minutes. You’ll hear a faint fizzing noise, this is normal

Step 5: Carefully remove your jewellery (it will be hot) and dry with a soft cloth to remove any lingering tarnish. For more heavily tarnished jewellery, repeat the process as many times as necessary.

How does it work? The tarnish coating on the silver jewellery (silver sulphide, the substance that causes the dark, tarnished look) reacts with the aluminium foil. The sulphur atoms are carried by the bicarbonate of soda and water solution and transferred to the aluminium foil, leaving your silver sparkling clean. Magic!

How to Remove Tarnish from Gold Jewellery

Gold jewellery tarnishes just as easily as silver, so use this super quick and simple method for bringing its lustre back. All you need is two bowls of warm water, some washing up liquid, a very soft-bristled toothbrush and a soft, dry cloth.

Step 1: Add a few squirts of washing up liquid to one of your water bowls and drop in your gold jewellery. Leave this for 15 minutes, or a little longer, for heavy tarnish.

Step 2: Remove the jewellery from the soapy water and gently scrub away any tarnish build-up. Gold scratches easily so never use anything too abrasive, like a scour pad.

Step 3: Place the jewellery in the second bowl of clean, warm water and rinse thoroughly.

Step 4: Dry thoroughly with your soft cloth. Repeat the process as many times as needed.

Et Voila! Your clean, lustrous jewellery is back. Now you know how to remove tarnish from silver and gold jewellery and how to prevent it, you can make sure your precious gold and silver necklaces and all your other favourite pieces last a lifetime.

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