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You may find that after wearing your jewellery, or even if you haven’t put it on for a while, the shine and sparkle starts to dim, or it may become darkened and tarnished. This is a normal process and is caused by oxidation of the metal when exposed to air, especially humid air. Therefore, if one can protect their jewellery from air, in theory, oxidation will not occur, although this is rather impractical, given its intended use and purpose for existing.
But, when you are not wearing these delicate beauty enhancers, the best way to store them, so that they don’t become tarnished, is to prevent air exposure, such as storing each piece separately in small zip lock bags. This isn’t the most glamourous idea; however, it is the best. If you polish your jewellery with a soft cloth once a week, it will also help keep its colour.
Nevertheless, if your jewellery has suffered from oxidation, never fear! There is often a very simple way to restore your special items, and they are listed as follows:
For silver jewellery, the best way to instantly remove tarnish is to line a small bowl with aluminium foil, add one tablespoon or so of bi-carb soda and a cup or so of boiling water. Drop your silver in, and presto, your tarnish will disappear! This is because the oxidised compounds in the silver transfer to the foil. It’s chemistry at its best! Following this, rinse in cold water and dry thoroughly before storing or wearing.
Gold plated jewellery can be a bit more painful due to the fact that it is essentially a thin layer of gold over another piece of metal, such as silver, meaning a small amount of damage will expose the metal underneath, which is susceptible to tarnishing. It can be cleaned using a basic, non-antibacterial soap with warm water and a soft bristle baby toothbrush, but if basic cleaning does not restore it, then they may need to be re-plated by a jeweller.
With solid 14k to 18k gold jewellery you need to be a bit more careful than with silver, especially if it has precious stones embedded within it. Gold with diamonds, rubies or sapphires can be placed in a small bowl with hot (not boiling) water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid added and soaked for 10-15 minutes. Upon removal, gently go over the item with a soft bristle baby toothbrush. This should dislodge small bits of dirt and help to remove tarnish. If it needs further cleaning, you can try adding some ammonia to the soaking mix. Gold with other precious stones such as emeralds, opals or turquoise are more delicate and porous, so you should stick to using a soft jewellery cloth for polishing or seek advice from your jeweller on how best to clean these pieces.
Make sure you don’t use harsh chemicals on your jewellery such as bleach, as these will damage both the metal and stones. Stay away from soaps which may have unknown ingredients, and don’t use harsh cloths or brushes, which can scratch the surfaces. Try not to let chemicals on your skin come into contact with your jewellery, such as moisturizer or perfume, and avoid wearing jewellery to the gym or any other sweat inducing activity, as sweating will also cause your precious trinkets to tarnish.
If all else fails, and you still can't manage to get that shine back, please visit https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-jewelry-cleaner.html for more cleaning ideas.