How to make your gold and silver sparkle like the night sky

Updated 04 Nov, 2015 01:05pm

Bringing back or preserving the lustre of your jewellery has never been so easy

Some flaunt gold jewellery as a mark of status; others will never take off their wedding bands as a sign of the bond they share with their spouse. Many wear lockets and chains to reflect religious affinity or because it’s a prized heirloom. Some even display a particular gemstone which they believe is a harbinger of good luck.

If for nothing else, jewellery is worn to make a woman feel like a woman; even the simplest and most practical of females will at least wear a ring or a pair of earrings, a chain or thin bangles.

However, it’s annoying when the gold rings and bangles you wear regularly begin to lose their lustre thanks to all the washing, scrubbing and cooking you have to do. I’m sure you’re ready to tear out your hair when you open your jewellery drawer to deck up for a wedding and find the silver adornments you wished to wear begin to blacken unattractively.

Needless to say, gold and silver jewellery require maintenance so that they may continue to look their finest. Also both these metals need to be dealt with differently.

Cleaning gold

Gold doesn’t tarnish, but with constant exposure to sweat, body oils, make-up, and other chemical substances, it may become dull and sullied.

The easiest method to give your gold back its unmistakable shine is to put your ornaments in a bowl of warm water with a dash of mild dish washing detergent.

You can use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the jewellery clean to remove the film gathered beneath the ornament as well as in its nooks and crevices.

Rinse it and dry it efficiently with a soft polishing cloth.

Cleaning silver

Silver is a preferred metal for jewellery courtesy of its affordability as well as the exquisite and exclusive designs its ornaments are available in these days. However, it is also a delicate metal which requires painstaking care and needs to be cleaned often and promptly after use. 

It is a common belief that when moisture comes in contact with silver it causes it to tarnish. It is true that air contains moisture and dissolved gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide to mention a few. Yet, it is the hydrogen sulphide in the atmosphere which forms a film of silver sulphide that is black.

Here are four easy ways to restore that silvery sheen:

Rub with a soft cloth:

Dip a soft, flannel lint free cloth in a solution of warm water mixed with a drop of dish washing soap. Use the damp cloth to rub the crevices of your silver ornament clean. Rinse your silver article in cool water and buff it completely dry with a flannel cloth.

Bringing back or preserving the lustre of your jewellery has never been so easy

Use baking soda:

For blackened silver jewellery which you think has no hope of becoming sparkling again try creating a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water and use it with a soft cloth to clean the silver. Rinse and dry.

The magic of salt and aluminium foil:  

Dissolve one tablespoon of salt into hot water and add a few strips of alum­inium foil in the bowl. Salt and aluminium react with the tarnish which is silver sulphide. This sulphide reacts with aluminium in a salt solution, converting silver sulphide back to silver.

Silver polish:

There are special silver jewellery polishes available in the market and it might be wise to use them on silver jewellery pieces which are antiques, heirlooms or intricate. Dab a little polish on a soft cloth and rub gently to and fro and let the polish wipe away the ebony tarnish.

Clichéd as it might be, yet prevention remains better than cure. Thus, here are a few tips you can follow regularly to keep your jewellery gleaming:

Take it off when performing chores:

Yes, it might be cumbersome, but the smart thing to do is to remove your rings and bangles when you’re cooking, cleaning or gardening. Fix a drawer or nook in your kitchen where you can slip these accessories off and put them back on after your chores are done.

Avoid contact with shampoos, soaps and make-up products:

Ensure that you complete your bathing, make-up and perfuming ritual, and then put on your accessories. Soap causes a film to form over accessories and the chemicals in these grooming products react with the metals to cause them to look lacklustre.

Don’t wear it during sporting activities:

If you’re a sport freak, or indulge in a weekly game of tennis, badminton or table tennis then make sure you peel off your accessories so as to not damage them during contact sports as gold and silver both are soft metals. The same applies for wearing ornaments in spas and swimming pools where the chlorine water will react with metals to discolour them.

Store it properly:

If you have precious pieces of jewellery it is wise to invest in proper fabric-lined jewellery cases especially fashioned for rings, bangles and sets to keep them secure, and prevent the pieces from jostling around.

Gold will not fade if stored properly; however, in case of silver you can place silver anti tarnish strips in your silver accessory case which will absorb the oxidants in the air. Wrap each piece of silver individually in acid-free tissue paper, anti-tarnish paper or flannel.

Even when travelling, gold and silver accessories must be packed painstakingly in fabric or leather jewellery pouches which can be rolled up and fit in safely in a corner of your suitcase or handbag.

Take out a little time to inspect and tend to your baubles and they will not only last you a lifetime but be fit enough to hand over with pride and love to your generations in all their glittering glory.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, November 1st, 2015