How to Clean Jewelry

You might think that the life of a jewelry artist is very glamorous with everyone clamoring to own your artistic creations.  But let me tell you, the grim reality is that it's not all shops, shows and parties.  Every time I remove jewelry from a store or have a pair of earrings that just won't sell, I have to clean them.  When I first realized this, it was a frustrating revelation and I sometimes just skipped it and put a low price on it.  But when you're at a show and the sun is shining brightly on your earrings and there's a brown/gold cast to that sterling silver, people notice it and back away slowly, not making eye contact.
Let me school you in the nitty-gritty behind the limelight, Jewelry Artists have to work hard and part of that is the dirty job of regularly cleaning the jewelry that they sell or... it doesn't sell.  Sometimes, the only reason I have clearance sales is because I don't want to clean my jewelry~
I've found some game-changing products that have made that chore not so chore-ish.


The first product that I use to clean my jewelry is a Sunshine Polishing Cloth.  These are great for a quick clean-up and I use them when I'm refreshing my stock at shops.  According to the website, these are "non-staining and easy-to-use cloths to remove tarnish from sterling silver, gold, brass, copper, glass, mirrors and most other surfaces, leaving a deep, long-lasting luster."
The only downside is that, though the tarnish is removed, the silver is not so sparkly after polishing.  If you don't mind that, then it's a quick way to clean sterling silver.


I have jewelry in a coffee shop and it's amazing how quickly it gets tarnished.  (It even kind of smells like coffee when I remove it, but that's probably more than you needed to know.)   Instead of a quick swipe with my sunshine cloth, I soak the jewelry in Sunshine Jewelry Cleaner.  It's a pink, soapy liquid that comes with a little brush to get to the stubborn stains.

Here's how their site touts it:
~Made in the U.S.A.
~All Natural
~No ammonia, acids or alcohol
~Biodegradable; environmentally friendly
I use the container with a little basket so you can dump a bunch of jewelry in and leave it for an hour or so, then pull it out to rinse it off and not even get your hands sticky!  It's a little pricey, but if you're just cleaning your own jewelry it will last a long time.   Get your own HERE!  
Most of the time, the jewelry is sparkly and the tarnish is gone.  When the tarnish is really stubborn, like on the aforementioned coffee shop jewelry, I use a polishing cream.
I like JewelBrite Polishing Cream best.  This polishing cream was my savior as far as jewelry cleaning goes.  You can use it on most stones and metals and it's biodegradable.


The best way to use the polishing cream is to dampen a wash cloth, swipe some cream on, polish then rinse.  It's great for delicate chains because you can gently pull the chain through the wet cloth several times.
The biodegradable polishing cream is also kind of expensive, but again, if you're only cleaning your own jewelry, the 2 oz. container should last a long time.  If it dries out, just add water.  Really good stuff!
Here are some options for purchasing (click the word): 




Another option for cleaning that's a bit more involved is the Baking-Soda-Aluminum-Foil-Boiling-Water Method.  I told you it was involved!  However, you can clean a ton of jewelry all at once and it's all natural~

I'm sure there's a video somewhere that you could watch but here are the steps:

1-Begin by heating your water to boiling.  I use a tea kettle which makes for easier pouring later. While you're waiting for that to boil:

2-Find a glass or plastic container (I use a flat long baking dish.)  Pull off enough aluminum foil to line the bottom and crinkle it up a bit.

3-Lay your jewelry out in the pan on top of the aluminum foil, making sure that as much of each piece touches the foil as possible.

4-Sprinkle baking soda over all of the jewelry in a heavy coating.

5-Once your water is boiling, slowly pour it over the baking soda covered jewelry.  Lean back a bit otherwise a stinky cloud of sulfur will rise up into your face...

6-Try to dissolve all of the baking soda with the boiling water because this is where the reaction happens.  You can even sprinkle more baking soda over particularly stubborn areas of tarnish and follow that with more boiling water over it.  Just make sure the water is still boiling hot.

7-After I've sprinkled and poured and sprinkled and poured some more, I let it sit for about 15-30 minutes.  Then rinse everything off with clean water and let it dry!

Another benefit of this method is that you can usually put gemstones and certain pearls in as well.

So, now you know one of the ugly truths of being a jewelry artist.  But, thanks to these products, I can quickly get through it with very little headache and move along to the Glamorous Life~

Back to blog