Do you love to accessorize with lots of different types of jewelry? Silver-plated jewelry is a cost-effective way to bulk up your jewelry collection. Learning how to clean silver-plated jewelry helps you prevent tarnishing on your collection to make it last longer. Soap, baking soda, and jewelry polishing cloths are common jewelry cleaning methods that work for silver-plated jewelry.
What Is Silver-Plated Jewelry?
Silver-plated jewelry starts with a base material other than silver, often brass or copper. After the jewelry is made, it's coated with a very thin layer of silver. The combination of materials with just a little silver on top makes silver-plated jewelry much more affordable than sterling silver. However, the plating can wear off the jewelry, which can make it a lower-quality option than sterling silver.
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Since silver-plated jewelry has the look of sterling silver, it can be difficult to tell it apart. If a piece is sterling silver, it should have "92.5," "925," or a similar marking engraved on it. This represents the percentage of the metal that's pure silver. Silver-plated jewelry also tends to be a lighter color than sterling silver.
Silver-Plated Jewelry Cleaning Considerations
Silver-plated jewelry can tarnish just like sterling silver jewelry, especially if it gets wet or comes in contact with chemicals. Wearing your silver-plated jewelry frequently also wears off the silver coat quicker. To protect silver-plated jewelry, minimize how often you wear it and remove it before you use chemicals or do something that might get the accessories wet. Clean it regularly but avoid cleaning or polishing the jewelry too much or too harshly, as this can wear down the silver plating quicker. Choosing the right jewelry organizer to keep it from rubbing or getting damaged can also help.
Soap and Water
For routine cleaning, a dip in warm, soapy water is enough to spruce up your silver-plated jewelry. Let the jewelry soak in a mix of warm water and liquid soap for a few minutes. Using a soft cloth, gently rub all surfaces of the jewelry to wipe away any dirt, sweat, or grime. It's also safe to use a soft toothbrush to gently clean the crevices of the jewelry. Rinse it well and dry it with a soft, clean cloth.
Aluminum Foil Method
- Line a bowl with aluminum foil.
- Measure a tablespoon each of baking soda and salt and add it to the bowl.
- Add enough hot water to fill the bowl halfway and mix everything together.
- Soak the silver-plated jewelry in the mixture for 10 minutes.
- Rub the jewelry with a soft cloth or use a soft-bristle toothbrush on it if necessary to remove any gunk.
- Rinse it well. Dry the jewelry well before putting it in your jewelry storage container or wearing it.
Jewelry Polishing Cloth
Another option is a jewelry polishing cloth, which is designed for cleaning various metals. One side is treated to clean silver safely, and the other is untreated for doing a final shine. In this two-step system, you wipe all surfaces of the silver-plated jewelry with the cloth until you remove the dirt and tarnish. Rub gently to avoid wearing off the silver plating. Use the untreated side of the cloth to finish up the jewelry with a nice shine.