Lately I have embraced using fine silver as my focal pieces; however past finished pieces and findings are sterling silver. I have been using a product called Jewel Brite to clean pieces that include softer stones, such as freshwater pearls and turquoise. I came across Jean Campbell's cleaning solution and thought I would pass on:
1. Choose a plastic or glass (never metal) pan that is deep enough so that when filled with water your tarnished jewelry will be covered.
2. Put a piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of the pan.
3. Pour near-boiling water into the pan.
4. Add a couple tablespoons of baking soda to the water.
5. Place the tarnished jewelry onto the piece of aluminum.
6. If necessary, add more baking soda to the dish until you see the tarnish coming off your piece. You should get a slight bubbling effect with an odd odor.
As soon as I got home that day I tried it, and guess what? It worked like a charm! I found I needed to take a soft toothbrush to some of the metal beads to get the tarnish completely off, but it didn’t take much. I’m not sure how the chemical reaction would affect gemstones or other beads, and I would never try it with a piece strung on silk, cotton, or nylon thread because of the hot water. But it went perfectly for this bracelet made of sterling silver, freshwater pearls, and crystals strung on beading wire.
I’ve heard of other at-home tarnish remedies, too:
• Mix mild soap, water, and a drop of ammonia. Rub the tarnished piece with the mixture and wipe clean with a soft cloth.
• Place clean silver in a plastic zip bag with a piece of white chalk inside. This keeps new tarnishing at bay.
• Cover newly cleaned silver with car wax to inhibit tarnishing.