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Recommendations for Polishing Silver Jewelry

These cleaning tips will make polishing silver jewelry a little easier. Learn how to prevent tarnish and how to clean silver and pearl jewelry, too.

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HomeLearning CenterGemologyQuestions About Gems and JewelryRecommendations for Polishing Silver Jewelry

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Question:I have some questions about polishing silver jewelry. I've tried a number of methods that work well, but none are particularly easy. I'd love to hear some suggestions for making polishing silver easier. I was also wondering if anyone has advice for keeping silver from tarnishing. Finally, I have some jewelry pieces that combine sterling silver and freshwater cultured pearls. The sterling has become very tarnished. Can anyone recommend a way to remove the tarnish that's also safe for pearlsNeedless to say, I love silver jewelry. But it's a lot of work to keepup!
Blue pearl
Silver ring with blue pearl. Photo courtesy of and Ark Auction.

Answer: Polishing silver can be time consuming. Polishing silver jewelry presents additional challenges, especially when dealing with gemstone pieces with tarnished silver and sensitive materials like pearls.

Polishing Silver Jewelry with a Tumbler

I've fallen deeply and madly in love with my jewelry tumbler. I tumble all of my silver and most of my gold rather than buffing. It's so effortless. I use stainless steel mixed shot with Super Sunsheen for a burnished finish. As for fighting tarnish, I've used a thin layer of Renaissance Wax in the past. It's worked well for me.


Using Chalk to Prevent Silver Tarnishing in Storage

I've found that if you can keep your silver jewelry in a sealed container with plain old white chalk it tarnishes very little. I keep my pieces in plastic storage bins with lots of compartments. (Well, they're not exactly sealed containers, but the chalk really does help).

Cindy Leazer

Design Creations

Speed-Brite for Cleaning and Polishing Silver and Pearl Jewelry

I sell fine jewelry for a living. I was on a quest for the ideal jewelry cleaner that would be safe for all manner of metals and gems when I found that the Speed-Brite system is IT. The non-ammonia based cleaning solution is safe for pearls, silver, and all manner of delicate gems. The system uses electrolysis (ionic cleaning) rather than ultrasonic waves. It will clean most anything in about 15 seconds flat. The unit produces no noise and uses very little electricity.

Amy Bozarth-Shenkel

Scarlet Rose Gems

Aluminum Foil and Baking Soda for Cleaning Silver and Pearl Jewelry

Try this procedure:

  1. Place a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of a Pyrex baking dish (about 8" x 12" x 2″).
  2. Fill the dish about 3/4 full of warm water.
  3. Add about 1/4 cup of baking soda.
  4. Put the items to be cleaned in the dish. The sterling should contact the aluminum foil in several spots.
  5. Remove when clean. Severely tarnished pieces may need more than one try.
  6. Remove and rinse in clear water.
  7. Dry with a soft towel and, if needed, buff with a treated cloth for polishing silver.


Before Polishing Silver Jewelry

Editor's note: If you have gemstone and silver jewelry please consult ourgemstone jewelry care guide. Keep in mind that pearls require special care. Make sure you've accurately identified any gemstones in your pieces first before choosing the best cleaning method for your jewelry.

sterling silver ring with cultured pearl
Sterling silver wire-wrapped ring with cultured pearl. Photo by Natalia Photos. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

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