None of us like polishing silver jewellery… but for best sales it certainly helps to have it shiny. Have you noticed that your silver tarnishes faster when you are running the heat in the winter, especially if you have natural gas? The tarnish is actually silver sulfide, which is created when silver comes in contact with airborne sulfur-containing substances like fossil-based heating fuels. If you are near the oil fields or heavy industry this process will be magnified. Similarly, during the busy summer months when your customers are handling the jewellery with moist hands there can also be an increase in tarnishing.
For years we used silver clothes extensively in our store and cleaned our spinners on a rotational basis (no pun intended). I have to say when we polished the silver out in the open our customers were often curious, and we ended up making lots of sales by cleaning their rings for them!
Having said that, we used to dread polishing our older samples, especially the delicate pieces. However, help we have a tried and true method that can clean hundreds of pairs of earrings in just minutes! Here’s how:
Line a glass baking dish with aluminum foil, or use an old aluminum pan (an old bread pan works great).
Take the earrings off the display cards.
Heat some water to just off a boil, enough to fill the container and submerge whatever you put in it.
Mix about 1/2 cup of baking soda with the hot water in a large, heat-proof measuring cup.
Ensure your silver pieces come in contact with the aluminum (the sulfide is lifted when the silver, water, and aluminum set up an electrical charge). Pour over your silverware.
The aluminum and hot water with baking soda triggers a chemical reaction and you might have a slight smell of rotten eggs (i.e. sulphur). It doesn't take long before your sterling is clean and bright. You may notice fine flakes of sulphur floating in the water.
This process leaves your silver completely undamaged. Just wash in soapy (phosphate-free) water, rinse in clean water, and finally dry by putting the jewellery between some layers of paper towel.
One other hint to keep your Silver jewellery from tarnishing is cover the pieces with a garbage bag at night. This cuts down on the air circulation while you’re not showing the pieces to your customers.
Occasionally you will find a stubborn bit of tarnish that can't be cleaned completely with this method. This is the time to use your silver polishing cloth and a bit of Silvo or other paste type cleaner.
Lastly, while there are several “dips” on the market, our experience has been that once you start with a dip the tarnishing increases. This is probably because it takes off a microscopic layer and leaves your pieces slightly rougher to catch more moisture and sulfur compounds.
Hopefully this process will make your life easier! We have no doubt that the increased shine to your jewellery will increase your sales.