Bohemi Blog

How To Remove Tarnish from Silver Jewelry

How To Remove Tarnish from Silver Jewelry
|by Heather Ng

You know that sterling chain you have, the one that's been sitting in your jewelry box for the last 8 years collecting dust and turning an icky, dingy brownish black color? Well it's high time you returned it to its shiny luster! Here's a simple DIY homemade solution that takes just minutes to whip up and just minutes to watch it do its chemical magic.

First, I'm going to give you some fine print. Mainly, we use this for chain in our store. We have big spools and silver tarnishes when it sits around unused. You'll notice that when you wear silver jewelry all the time it doesn't tarnish. It's when it sits in your jewelry box that over time it starts to create oxidation on the surface. This homemade solution is technically an abrasive reaction, so we don't do this often, only when we have a bunch of items to put in, you want to limit the amount you do it because if you did this many many times you would start to corrode the metal. This is mainly for chain and very tarnished jewelry. After that, you can move to less abrasive cleaning products. 

We do not recommend this solution on jewelry that has stones or glue or enamel, this is mainly for all metal sterling silver jewelry and chain. 

This process is only for pieces that you want to be entirely bright silver. You do not want to do this solution if you have pieces where the artist intentionally blackened parts of the piece as part of the design, as it will get rid of all the black and turn everything to a bright whitish silver. I'll explain at the end of this post what to use on this type of jewelry. 

Okay, now that you know what not to do, let's gather some materials.

You'll need:

1. Boiling water

2. Aluminum foil

3. White vinegar

4. Baking soda

5. Pyrex glass or ceramic shallow dish or bowl. We use a pyrex glass pie plate. 

6. Microfiber towel. 

Take a piece of aluminum foil a little over the size of your dish and put shiny side up inside your dish, pushing it down into the dish. Place your tarnished jewelry, not touching each other in the dish on the foil. Sprinkle baking soda over your jewelry, covering the jewelry in a thin layer. Measure out 1 tbl of white vinegar and pour on top of baking soda. Then pour boiling water on top of baking soda. Everything will start to fizzle once you pour the vinegar on and the reaction starts. We wait about 2 minutes then we flip all the jewelry over with a plastic spoon or tongs (not metal). Wait another 2 minutes. It's a fast reaction, you should see it turning bright silver quickly. Once it's bright silver we take out the pieces and rinse in cold water and then dry it off with a microfiber towel. 

Tada! Your jewelry, especially your chain links are a nice bright silver. Be aware that it does stink like sulphur when you do this. Make sure you are in a well ventilated area. 

So how do you keep your jewelry from tarnishing? Well for starters it helps to have jewelry storage that has an anti-tarnish interior. All our jewelry storage has a patented luster lock in the interior lining of the travel carriers. You can see those here: Jewelry Storage

Putting silicon moisture packs in your jewelry box and using anti-tarnish plastic bags (you can get on Amazon). As well as avoiding things that speed up oxidation, so wearing your silver jewelry in the ocean, pools, hot tubs and hot springs is best avoided. 

What do you do with jewelry that can't be dipped in this solution because it has design elements that are intentionally oxidized? Use a Sunshine polishing cloth: Jewelry Cleaning Cloths

Using a cloth will allow you to only clean the high parts of the piece and leaves the recesses black like the designer intended. 

Have more questions about cleaning silver jewelry? Shoot us an email and hopefully we can answer it!