Cleaning jewelry at home

If you work with jewelry you realize pretty fast that ‘shiny’ and ‘polished’ are words that only describe it once it’s finished.  The jewel making process takes the metal through several firings, whether it’s for soldering or annealing, which in turn makes it oxidize. Most dirt and grime from the firing process is removed by the pickle, but the piece then turns matte.  If you are like me and don’t have an ultrasonic cleaner, polishing machine or tumbler at home, what can you do once you’re out of the workshop?  Read on…

Tip 1: Baking soda. Most people have this at home, and it’s readily available in supermarkets and drugstores.  Dip a damp toothbrush into baking soda and scrub the piece.  There’s a very interesting tutorial on Instructables I have yet to try, and it uses baking soda, a piece of aluminum foil and boiling water. This process removes tarnish from silver, and it’s easy enough to do at home even if you’re not a jeweler.

Tip 2: A common abrasive most of us have at home are dish washing sponges, the green coarse kind. These are great for giving jewelry a matte or lightly scratched finish, as well as cleaning. Warning: don’t try this on polished pieces.

Tip 3: If you have a polishing cloth at home, go right ahead and use it.  It doesn’t remove scratches, but it buffs up the surface and might save you in a jewelry shining emergency, if there ever is one. However, what most people don’t know they should do is clean the piece with soap and warm water afterward, in order to remove the cleaning agents the cloth is soaked in. Dry with a hair dryer to prevent water spots to appear.

Tip 4: Use your old jeans! Yes, jeans. Rubbing metal pieces against your pants removes surface tarnish gently. This is a good way to shine pieces in a pinch, and there’s no way of messing it up.

Do you have any tips of your own?

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