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Cleaning Vintage Silver Jewellery

Friday, 4 May 2018  |  Anne

Cleaning Vintage Silver Jewellery.

Your Vintage Silver Jewellery will last not just your lifetime but for many lifetimes to come if you look after it well. In the past, I've written about cleaning it quickly using tin foil and bicarb. Many find this a bit daunting so here are some alternatives for cleaning vintage silver jewellery.

Before it needs cleaning

Silver can be attacked by the salts in our skin so you can consider washing it after wearing if your jewellery is plain silver with no further materials a little non-citrus washing up liquid in water will do the job, rinse well and pat dry. This will not polish the silver up or remove the patina just keep it clean.

First Steps

Silver does however tarnish and become dull over the years. Providing the jewellery is just silver with no additional materials, I first try cleaning mine with a jewellery polishing cloth. These cost just a few pounds and last for years, just pop it in the washing machine if it gets grubby and it will be as good as new. If this fails then a gentle wash in an electronic jewellery cleaning machine with just water and a drop of washing up liquid is my next port of call.  ( I believe you should avoid Lemon and other citrus scented washing up liquids for silver). This will remove dirt and a gentle dry and polish with a soft cloth restores a good patina without shining your brooch up as new. These ultrasonic jewellery cleaners are worth investing in if you have a large quantity of gold and silver jewellery to clean however if you have a smaller quantity then there are other ways you can try.

Silver Dip:

I do not like using silver dip and suggest you only do so as a very last resort as it removes all vintage and antique patina. Silver Dip is very caustic and will remove all tarnish immediately, however, It is very harsh and should be used with extreme caution. Always follow all the instructions on the silver dip bottle use protective gloves and glasses and wash the piece after using the silver dip and pat the piece dry. Silver Polish:  Once again, I'm not keen on silver polish as it leaves a residue which is difficult to get out of corners and decorative edges. A tiny dab on a toothbrush can work wonders when all else fails. Be prepared to gently polish it all away.
Storing Silver Jewellery
If you are going to store a piece of silver jewellery away for a long time I suggest you get hold of some acid-free tissue paper. Avoid plastic and standard tissue papers as these contain chemicals which will oxidise the silver over time and it will go black. Wrap your silver jewellery individually in the acid-free tissue paper as this will prevent the pieces from damaging each other.
Silver gilt jewellery care Silver gilt jewellery has a thin layer of gold over the silver. If your hallmarked silver jewellery is gold in colour it is best to assume it is silver gilt. Assuming the piece of jewellery is all silver gilt and there are no other materials the jewellery will stay bright and clean for quite a while. If you do think it needs a clean I would use a tiny drop of jewellery cleaner (not silver dip) but a cleaner suited to gold. Put a drop of this on a cloth and wipe the jewellery. Then get a clean damp cloth and wipe off the residue of the cleaner and dry with a dry cloth. A polish with a gold polishing cloth would do just as well. Is it time for you to go Cleaning Vintage Silver Jewellery?