Tarnished Silver Rope

I have had a beautiful silver rope necklace for about ten years that has gotten terribly tarnished. I can't remove the tarnish with a chamois cloth because of the intricate rope detail. I've tried Tarn-X and the baking soda/aluminum foil solution to no avail. Does anyone know of an effective way to clean silver jewelry? Every jeweler has told me that they don't do silver.

By Pam in OH

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Clean the tarnish off silver objects

Materials: (tarnished silver, a pan or dish large enough to completely immerse the silver, aluminum foil to cover the bottom of the pan, boiling water, baking soda)

Line the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil or use a disposable aluminum pan.

Place silver object on top of the aluminum, making sure the silver touches the aluminum.

Pour boiling water into the pan until the object is completely covered.

Add about baking soda. (about 1/4 cup per liter or 1 cup per gallon of water).

What will happen?

As you add the baking soda, the mixture may froth a bit and may spill over. The tarnish will begin to disappear quickly. For badly tarnished silver, you may need to repeat the experiment a 2nd time to remove all traces of tarnish.

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Another thing you can do is buy "coin cleaner" (some coin stores sell it). I don't remember the chemical in it, but it is a blue liquid, very watery. You soak the silver in it for a few seconds, agitate the solution while it's soaking, wash it off, and the tarnish is gone. I have heard that you should not use it on silver plated objects though. I have a sterling rope chain, and that is what I do for it.

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Believe it or not, Pam, the main reason the necklace is tarnished (oxidized) is because it's not worn every day. I have worn a sterling ring every day for the past 5 years, and it doesn't have a bit of tarnish on it. Likewise, I have worn sterling bracelets (including ropes) on a daily basis with the same results. A relatively cheap and effective method of cleaning sterling (and, in fact, almost any jewelry) is with toothpaste (NOT gel) and an old toothbrush. After all of the years I did spend working with/selling jewelry, I always come back to the old "stand by." Once clean, gold and platinum can be stored however you want. Sterling, though, should be put in a plastic ziploc-type bag if it isn't going to be worn for an extended amount of time. (Hint: this goes for sterling flatware as well.) P.S. If every jeweler has told you they don't do silver, you're going to the wrong jewelers. Since you're in Ohio and I am too, e-mail me privately,and I may be able to suggest some better jewelers, depending on where you are in the state.

Christina Look on the Reader's Request Message Boards for Christina's Address.

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There are two things I do. I have one of the kits that uses washing soda and an aluminum plate. You can make your own if you can get ahold of a small piece of aluminum. You fill a bowl (I use Rubbermaid storage containers) with hot water, place the piece of aluminium on the bottom, pour in the soda, mix, and place the rope (or any piece of silver) on the metal. It does get rid of the tarnish in most cases.

Another method, which I use as well, is to use a very soft toothbrush with a regular toothpaste (nothing abrasive). I place the rope on a towel, then, put the paste on the brush, wet it slightly, and lightly brush over the rope, Do a small section at a time, and turn the rope while "brushing". It takes a little more time, but it also helps get out any "little bits" that have gotten between the links. It also gives the silver a better shine.

No matter what cleaning method I use to clean any of my jewelry, I always dip it in sudsy water (hot or warm water and dish detergent) then let it sit in a container of hot or warm water a few minutes, to remove (or soak away) any solution or bits of toothpaste on the item. Just do not soak anything with porous stones (jade, onyx, lapis. etc) or opals, just a quick dip in the sudsy water and a good rinse. Too much time in liquids can damage these stones.

Then, after cleaning and drying, you can rub it with the cloth to bring up the shine.


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Try rubbing it with the white side of a Pelican ink-removing eraser, but nothing else! It works for me.

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I think it needs to be noted that the baking soda method sometimes needs repeating & should be done with boiling hot water for best effect. If the silver is truly gunked up, try scrubbing with a toothbrush & water before & between doing the baking soda method to get out stuff like old sweat.

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In This Article
Coiled silver bead necklace with large silver ball.
Cleaning Silver Jewelry
Home and Garden Cleaning MetalMay 19, 2000
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