How To Easily Remove Silver Tarnish

Est. Reading: 3 minutes
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November 23, 2023
Silver bracelet and necklace with diamonds, earrings with pearl on black background
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The elegant beauty of gleaming silver jewellery is simply unmatched – in fact, many people often prefer to wear silver jewellery over gold due to its trendy, yet sophisticated look.

Unlike gold though, silver jewellery pieces need constant maintenance. If it’s stored incorrectly, or if left unworn, even for a short period of time, silver jewellery can easily develop ‘tarnish’ – causing it to look dull and discoloured.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can easily remove silver tarnish from your precious jewellery at home.

First off, what is Tarnish?

Put simply, silver tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that forms on the surface of silver jewellery. Similar to how steel or iron suffers rust when exposed to oxygen, sliver develops a tarnish through exposure to moisture and naturally occurring sulphur in the air. Unlike rust though – which penetrates deep the metal – tarnish only affects the top layer of silver.

Although pure silver is actually resistant to tarnish, most silver jewellery is not in fact 100% pure. As it’s an extremely soft metal, pure silver must be mixed with other metals in order to be suitable for jewellery manufacture. This alloyed silver – or ‘sterling silver’, as it’s known – is highly susceptible to tarnishing.

The first common sign of tarnish is a discolouration in silver jewellery, ranging in colour from yellow to purple.

How to Remove Silver Tarnish

When attempting to clean silver, it’s important to remember that there are risks involved. Because sterling silver is still a soft metal, silver jewellery can be easily damaged if cleaned improperly.
This is where a silver polishing cloth can come in handy.

Silver polishing cloths are specially designed to gently clean and polish silver – often restoring it right back to its original shine. Typically made from a specialised fabric, they’re also usually formulated with tarnish inhibitors and other ingredients designed to help remove tarnish from silver.

Cheaper and less harmful than other more abrasive polishing solutions, polishing cloths are also extremely easy to use:

  1. First, remember to make sure your silver jewellery is completely free of any moisture or water – any contact with moisture or water will ruin the cloth’s ability to remove tarnish from silver.
  2. Form the cloth into a ball and begin rubbing the metal gently in a linear fashion – following the grain of the metal if possible.
  3. Continue rubbing the same small area until you see that the discolouration begins transferring to the cloth. (N.B. this discolouration of the polishing cloth does not affect its ability to remove tarnish or clean effectively).
  4. Next, using a soft, dry microfibre cloth, begin to buff the area you’ve just cleaned. Continue this buffing until you’ve achieved a beautiful radiant shine.
  5. Repeat the steps in each new area of tarnish until the entire piece has been properly cleaned and polished.

For more insight into preventing tarnish, or cleaning silver, check out our recent post: “How To Clean Your Silver at Home”.

Need help?

At Martin Gear Jewellers, we’ve been manufacturing, selling, and cleaning silver jewellery for decades, right from our Dublin City centre shop. Simply drop into our store on 5 Mary St, Dublin 1, or alternatively, just give us a call now on (01) 872 8726 and we’d be happy to help.

For more information on our other jewellery cleaning services, click here.

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