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Your jewelry’s lifespan depends on the care with which it is treated. Various care instructions are usually needed to keep your jewelry looking good as new. It also depends on what material your jewelry is made of. Gold and platinum jewelry need different cleaning and care instructions than silver ones. Gem-studded jewelry is cleaned differently than gold, silver and platinum.

Silver jewelry does not actually rust. Those dark spots that you see are called tarnish. It is a mixture of silver and sulfur, called silver sulfide. When silver oxidizes, it eats away the surface of the silver. Fortunately, removing tarnish can be easily done using household materials.

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Place aluminum foil in the bottom of a glass dish. Place the tarnished jewelry inside the dish. Be sure that it comes in contact with the aluminum foil.

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Heat one quart of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Set in the sink and add ¼ cup of baking soda. Add the baking soda slowly while the saucepan is in the sink. Stir until baking soda is completely dissolved.

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Pour the solution into the glass dish until the jewelry is fully immersed. Wait until tarnish is gradually removed. Badly tarnished jewelry usually takes longer before tarnish is completely removed.

Carla de Koning /Demand Media

Remove the jewelry from the glass dish and wipe dry with a soft cloth.


Silver jewelry can also be cleaned using toothpaste and a brush. For smaller pieces of jewelry like studs, pour white vinegar into a glass and let the jewelry soak until you see the rust is dissolved. A tablet of Alka-Seltzer dissolved in some water can also be used to clean your jewelry. Soaking jewelry in denture cleaner also works wonders to your favorite piece. To retard the formation of tarnish between wearing, store your jewelry in a cool, dry place, preferably inside a zip-seal bag with the air gently pressed out of the bag.


Do not leave your jewelry soaking in the baking soda and water solution for more than 30 minutes, to prevent damage to your jewelry. Be careful when adding baking soda to water because it might fizz and spill over. Do not wear silver jewelry when going to a swimming pool because chlorinated water can destroy it.

About the Author

Sue Teresa Tan

Based in Northern California, Sue Teresa Tan has been writing essays and journal entries during her free time since 2001 when she retired from work as a business owner. Her favorite topics to write about are arts and crafts, fashion, health, and travel. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in archeology from the Universite Des Beaux-Arts in Cambodia. Her work has been featured on eHow.