There are many reasons why your jewellery might need a bit of a clean. Everyday wear, or very infrequent wear, along with exposure to cosmetics, pollution and dirt can all contribute to your piece losing some of its vibrancy over time.
Dirt and dust can be easily (but carefully!) removed by gently washing the piece in warm water with a drop of liquid soap and a soft bristled brush - I like to use a soft toothbrush. Please take care, especially with delicate pieces and/or stones!
But if the jewellery is heavily discoloured and tarnished it will need something a bit more specialist, as soap and water will not remove this. As an alternative to commercial silver cleaners I'd like to share this quick and easy jewellery cleaning method, which uses super simple, safe ingredients which you probably have in your kitchen cupboards.
Below is a very tarnished and dirty ring - it is 9 carat yellow and white gold so contains a lot of silver, which has caused the tarnish.
Lets clean it up!
You will need a non-metallic, heatproof bowl, a generous spoonful of bicarbonate of soda, a piece of clean aluminium foil, boiling water, and your tarnished piece of jewellery. Have a small, soft bristled brush and some clean, soapy water handy for later.
Put the kitchen foil and a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda into your bowl along with your jewellery, and cover with boiling water.
Let it all sit for a short while. How long will depend on how stained your jewellery is, but you can keep checking to see how it's doing. This ring was pretty dull and tarnished, and I left it submerged for 5-10 minutes.
After a few minutes, remove your piece (be careful if it is hot!) and rinse it in some clean, warm water and gently wash with a little soap and a soft brush (an old toothbrush is perfect).
Dry it carefully and your jewellery should be shining brightly once again!
Amazing! But how does it work?
Tarnish on silver and 9 carat gold is caused by air and other elements reacting with the silver and causing a dull coating to form on the surface. This coating reacts with the aluminium and with the help of the soda solution is transferred from the silver to the foil. You can see below the discolouration on the kitchen foil as compared with a new, clean piece (the now dirty piece is on the right).
Super simple, yes? Yes! No excuses for dull jewels now!