Spring Cleaning Your Jewelry

Rather than dwell on the fact that I started the blog, and didn’t post for, well, a reeeeeeeally long time, I am choosing to take this spring as a new start.  And what better way to start fresh than to talk about spring cleaning?  Your jewelry, that is.  Also, this is not an April Fool’s anything, FYI.  Of course I’d write my first blog post in months on April 1st!

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BEFORE
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AFTER

I have to admit, that since I make jewelry, I may or may not have allowed a stack of my own personal pieces to sit around in a basket, improperly stored and collecting a bit of tarnish.  Just because I can tell you just what to do to store your jewelry to minimize this, doesn’t mean I actually am good at following my own advice.  😛  Is it terrible to admit that sometimes I’ll make myself a new pair of earrings before I dig out the pair I wanted, just because I know they need to be cleaned?

So, this week I finally dealt with the dilemma (and found some earrings I’d forgotten about along the way).  I sorted and cleaned all of my silver jewelry that did not have soft, porous stones or stones that hate water (like amber does).   Glass beads, and hard stones like amethyst, for example, are no problem.  But, Disclaimer Time:  It is very important to know what gemstones you are cleaning and whether they should be subject to the cleaning methods I am about to mention.

Now that that is out of the way, I’d like to share some basic Kitchen Chemistry with you.  First, for any tarnished silver (from silver plated to sterling silver jewelry), you will need:

  • A (clean) aluminum pan of some kind, or aluminum foil lined bowl
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Really hot water (I usually microwave a 1-2 cups until it is just before boiling, usually a minute or so on high per cup.  Be careful, and do this at your own risk.  I take no responsibility for hot water  accidents.)

I don’t ever measure, I just cover the bottom of the aluminum container with a dusting of baking soda, salt it with the salt shaker like you are a salt-aholic, place your jewelry pieces in the container so that the metal of the jewelry is touching aluminum, and then carefully pour the hot water over the whole thing.  You know the water is hot enough because the baking soda will dissolve immediately, and you will see little bubbles forming not only in the water, but on the surface of your jewelry.  Let it sit for a few minutes, then VOILA!  Rinse with warm water, and dry thoroughly.

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For why this works, and measured amounts, visit http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howtos/ht/silverdip.htm?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=sm&utm_campaign=shareurlbuttons

I really love this method, especially for silver plated items (if you use a polishing cloth on plating, it can rub the plating off).  It is safe for the planet, takes only a few minutes, and makes use of things you already have at home.

Next time on Kitchen Chemistry, we’ll discuss cleaning your brass and copper items with KETCHUP!  So fun!

Have a beautiful day!

Amber

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