My silver jewelry is tarnished! What do I do?!
Written By Allie Perry May 22, 2022
It's a tale as old as time.
For whatever reason, your silver jewelry has been packed away neatly (or shoved indisciminately...I won't judge, but we should work on that) in your jewelry box for way too long.
You decide it's finally time to bust out some fun, funky silver accessories, so you open your jewelry box to grab your favorite silver piece only to discover it's all black!
This discovery is neither fun nor funky, but I can help!
If you purchased your favorite piece of silver jewelry from me, you received a complimentary polishing cloth with your order. Your first step is to grab that polishing cloth and clear away that oxidation.
Simply place the cloth on the silver, apply direct pressure, and wipe away all that black. Think of all the times when you were little when an adult would lick their thumb and clean dirt off of your face. It's like that, only way less gross.
Sometimes it comes off with a gentle swipe, but if it's been in there for a while and built up a ton of oxidation it make take a little extra elbow grease.
If you didn't purchase your favorite piece of silver jewelry from me, (again, I won't judge, but we should work on that, too!) you can purchase a polishing cloth and get to work.
Jewelry polishing cloths last a really long time, so they're well worth every cent that they cost. You can use them until they're completely black, and not just on jewelry! They work really well on home goods and picture frames, too! Just store them in a baggie to keep them dry, and never run them through the wash. Many polishing cloths are impregnated with compounds to help you get your jewelry looking it's best, and washing them removes that compound. (Fair warning, some polishing cloths will least a sort of dusty residue on your hands- don't worry, you can wash it right off with soap and water, or just wear some gloves from the get-go.)
"But Allie, I tried that and it didn't get all of the black off."
You're right; this is absolutely one of the limitations of polishing cloths. They will only polish where you are able to press and rub firmly on the metal, so it's nearly impossible for you to use them to remove oxidation from hard to reach places like in decorative grooves or behind stones.
This is where we need to turn to chemical tarnish removers, and I'll tell you which one I like the best.
It's called Tarn•X, by CLR, and it's by far the easiest way I've found to remove tarnish from my silver.
I'm not sponsored by them- they likely don't even know I exist, and I am certainly not getting paid to post this. But I love their product! I also love supporting women in business, and CLR is women-owned!
Basically, you just throw on some gloves, wash the silver with soap and water, dip a cotton ball in the Tarn•X (Q-tips or soft cloths also work great) and wipe all of the tarnish away. Then rinse it with some water, wipe it dry, and you're done.
You can also dip smaller pieces right into the solution and watch the tarnish disappear right before your very eyes! It's like jewelry-cleaning magic.
And it really is just that easy! No scrubbing, no elbow grease, the Tarn•X does all of the work for you.
I also like that it's not a hard-to-find specialty product- you can grab it at your local hardware store.
The ONE thing I don't like about Tarn•X is the smell. Because oh MAN does it smell. But anyone who's ever had to hand-scrub a whole collection of silver jewelry (raises hand) will agree that that's really a small price to pay for such easy tarnish removal. Just try to use it by a window or vent fan if you're sensitive to smells.
And be sure to read the instructions!!!
-You really need to wash the jewelry first and rinse it clean before the Tarn•X can be as effective as possible.
-You need to do a test on an inconspicuous area to make sure the solution is safe for the item you're trying to clean. (If you're not sure if it's safe for a stone, it's best to just avoid getting it on the stone.)
And whatever you do, do not soak items for longer than two minutes!
I'll say it louder for the people in the back: DO NOT SOAK ITEMS FOR LONGER THAN TWO MINUTES!
Prolonged soaking can cause your jewelry to turn golden or brown, or get cloudy.
I once has a client ignore ALL of my careful instructions AND all of the instructions on the bottle, and they soaked their jewelry overnight. When they took all of the pieces out the next morning, they were dull white like a sheet of paper, and I had to hand polish each piece with special compounds on my polishing wheel to restore the surfaces.
Don't be that person.
Just read the bottle, check out their website for additional FAQ's, and you'll be fine!
And remember, I'm always an email away if you need help.
Now go get all of your silver looking bright, shiny, and tarnish-free!
Allie is the owner and goldsmith behind Allie Perry Designs.
Learn more about her here, or connect with her on Instagram!