Friday 15 March 2013

Silver Shine

About a month ago, I blogged about keeping Copper and Brass jewellery looking great.  One of the options mentioned is based on baking soda, hot water and tin foil. 
Sterling silver looks incredible when it is cleaned this way.  I decided to walk through how clean sterling silver this way:
1.      Gather up some jewellery that has tarnished:

Helm’s Weave Aventurine Earrings

Freshwater Dyed Shell, Carnelian& Quartz Crystal Necklace

Silver Plated Chain

2.      Line the bottom of a glass or ceramic bowl with tin foil.  It doesn't matter which side faces up.  Sprinkle some baking soda on top of the foil.

3.      Place your sterling silver items on top of the foil.  Make sure the silver is touching the foil.  I cleaned one part at a time for each item to display the difference that the cleaning makes.

4.      Heat water to boiling and very carefully pour the water into the bowl.  There will be quite a bit of fizzing as the mixture goes to work.  You will also get a faint smell of rotten eggs, a result of the sulphur in the tarnish transferring to the tin foil.
Note:  I removed the earring before adding water.  The Aventurine gemstone does not take kindly to extreme heat.  I was also careful to make sure the dyed shell beads of the necklace did not get wet.  The dye would have started to come out if they did.

In the second photo, I am holding the earring by the gemstone to keep it sitting in the cleaning bath.  Be careful not to burn your fingers if you do this too.  (There’s a little steam on the camera, obscuring the shot)
5.      Here are the results, with ½ done.  Look at the difference!

Helm’s Weave, Aventurine Earrings
Freshwater Dyed Shell, Carnelian
& Quartz Crystal Necklace

Silver Plated Chain
 6.   I finished cleaning the second half of each item.  I wasn’t totally satisfied with how the first part of the silver plated chain looked, so the whole chain went back in the bath.  Then came the challenge – how to get it out again.  Sometimes, you have to improvise to remove the pieces without burning your fingers.  

Rinse all items thoroughly in clean water and dry completely.
7.      This is what the tin foil will look like when the cleaning bath is done.  The tarnish has transferred from the silver to the foil.  The combination of tin foil, baking soda and hot water generates a mild electrical current that acts like a mild electromagnetic current, transferring the tarnish from the jewellery to the silver.

 8.      And here are the final results.  Beautiful!

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