Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Love It When Things Actually Work

I decided to give one of the homemade "recipes" for removing tarnish a try. I sell my jewelry at a friend's custom clothing design shop here in Sacramento, as well as on Etsy. For some reason, the sterling silver jewelry I display in the shop tarnishes at warp speed compared to any other place I've had it. I don't know if it's the chemicals certain fabrics emit, the fluorescent lights, or even the humidity in the air that causes this. Most likely it's a combination of all of these things.

My friend's clientele includes a lot of brides, so many of the pieces I display for sale in her shop are made with pearls. When jewelry gets tarnished and the components include pearls, I never use a tarnish removing dip because that would ruin the luster on the pearls. Using a polishing cloth is safer, but it never works to remove all of the tarnish since the cloths only clean the areas you can actually wipe with the cloth, so chains and tiny jump rings can't possibly get completely shiny again. So I decided to give a home remedy a test on some pearl and sterling silver jewelry I recently brought home from the shop because they were getting so darkened with tarnish.

I lined a shallow dish with tin foil, shiny side up, then dissolved 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp baking soda in two cups of warm (not hot) water. I placed the jewelry on top of the foil, and poured the warm water solution over it, completely submerging it.

After 10-20 minutes, I was really pleased with the results (on right).

The most dramatic result, however, was on a pair of earrings that I had made using two different kinds of jump rings. Depending on the alloy used, sterling silver will tarnish at differing rates of speed. The twisted wire rings on these earrings possibly have more copper in the sterling silver than the plain smooth rings. The earring on the left is the untreated one. The earring on the right is the shining result of soaking it in the above-mentioned solution for 20 minutes.

I'm really pleased to find that this particular home remedy actually works and is safe enough to use on delicate pearls.

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