By Blue Crockatt
Cleaning sterling silver jewelry
Don't leave your beloved jewelry sitting in a drawer just because it's too dirty or because you forgot to take it off before going in the hot tub or pool. Sterling silver may turn all black or gold color when it's in contact with the chemicals presents in the water contained in such facilities. Products like bleach & nail polish remover will also have a terrible effect on your sterling silver jewelry. But it's not over for those pieces since you can clean that off pretty easily.
Many cleaning techniques & products are available on the market today so don't rush to your nearest jewelry store. They will clean your jewelry efficiently & it may be the right solution if you don't mind paying or really don't want to deal with it.
Many cleaning solutions are sold in regular store, you just put the jewelry in the little container filled with a special cleaning solution, close it up & shake it a bit. It will work pretty well & wont be ruining the material or stones but it may also remove the antique look you used to have. Many jewelers add a darkening solution onto the jewelry which gives it an antique look by turning the incursions black & it shows all the details of the piece a lot better.
Cleaning cloths are a good alternative, just rub the jewelry & it will turn nice & clean again. It may take more time but it does give great results. Only problem is you may not be able to rub in certain areas depending on how the piece. If your jewelry is just a little dirty this technique is the best, it will refresh the clean look of it and you will be surprised at how well it works. Many different type of cleaning cloths are available, the biggest seller on the market is the Sunshine - Polishing Cloth. Such cloths are impregnated with special chemical cleansing compounds that do wonders.
I have been asked about using the new ultrasonic cleaners available at many stores, so I have purchased one myself to try. First, I must say do not ever put any jewelry with gemstones or precious stones in such an apparel. It will ruin it. Also many of those apparel have an automatic shut down timer. Personally, it did not work on the pieces I tried it on. It did have a small effect, but I had to keep on reactivating it to the point where it became a nonsense. So I would not recommend wasting your money, it may be ok for cleaning other things but not jewelry.
The technique I prefer may not be suitable if you have just a few personal pieces of jewelry. Tumblers are such great jewelry cleaners it's unbeatable.
If you want to do it yourself, remember to remove Turquoise & Howlite gemstones and cameos before putting the jewelry in the tumblers. There are two types of tumblers; rotary & vibratory both need stainless steel shots in the barrel to work. Shots are available at specialized jewelry supply stores for about twenty dollar a pound. The rotary tumblers with a capacity of 3 pounds need about 1 pound of shots while the regular vibratory tumblers need about 3-4.
Both apparel work very well just add the stainless steel shots, a little water, a bit of regular dishwashing detergent & your jewelry in the barrel & start the machine. Regular cleanings with the rotary tumbler will take about 24 hours while the vibratory will take only a couple of hours. Another inconvenient of the rotary tumbler is that you will have to load & close the barrel each time while the vibratory is an open barrel so you can just throw & pick up your jewelry freely. Also, the vibratory tumbler can hold a larger volume of jewelry at once. Still, rotary tumblers are interesting because they are much cheaper & make a lot less noise.
You want to avoid cleaning your jewelry as much as possible? Good idea, you can do so by being careful avoiding direct contact with ammonia, bleach, nail polish remover, alcohol, and other harsh cleaning products. Best is to always remove all your jewelry before cleaning, going to pools or hot tubs, painting, moving heavy furniture, doing sports so that you don't brake it or get it dirty. Also, when you are not wearing your jewelry store it in a ziploc type of bag, the reason for that is that sterling silver oxidizes in contact with oxygen which turns it black over time.
Blue Crockatt is a professional silversmithing artist. You can get your jewelry clean at a very low cost & see her work exclusively on http://sterlingsilverart.com
About The Author
Silversmithing artist Blue Crockatt invites you to see her latest handmade jewelry at http://sterlingsilverart.com