Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DIY: Polishing Silver Jewellery

It really was lovely, this Easter weekend. I spent the first few couple days doing the things long weekends are made of—daily brunches, late night movies, swapping clothes and sleeping in late. But best of all, I headed home on Sunday.

Because I only live about a half hour away, I usually head back to Toronto the day I visit my parents. But I never feel like I get enough time at home to relax, to wake up late and sip my parents' super strong coffee. So this weekend, I did. I booked Monday off so I could have a childhood-style extra-long Easter weekend, and I stayed over on Sunday night. I woke up late and had peameal bacon sandwiches and hunted through the garage. I found a box of my grandmother's costume jewelry, and my mom and I sifted through the broken brooches and huge plastic earrings.

My mom collects silver bangles—she always makes sure to pick one up on a trip so she's reminded of all the places she's been. We came across a few pretty ones in Memere's old jewels, textured and heavy and blackened with tarnish. So we found an easy, inexpensive way to shine them up and it totally made us feel like we were DIY scientists. I was a bad blogger and didn't take photos when I was home, so I thought I'd demonstrate with some of my rings and Laura's that needed a good shining.


Polishing Tarnished Silver Jewelry*

Things you will need:
Aluminum pan or foil
Baking soda
Boiling water

1. Use a disposable aluminum pan or line a small pan with aluminum foil. It has to be aluminum or it won't work.

2. Place your tarnished items in the pan and coat them with baking soda. The piece should be mostly covered in the stuff—lay it on thick.

3. Pour enough boiling water on the coated pieces to cover them.** It will start to bubble and you might smell some sulfur. This adds to the magic of your science experiment. You probably shouldn't breathe in too much of the steam that comes up though, so just lean back.

4. You can use a spoon to move the pieces around in the baking soda until it is no longer reacting or bubbling. You might see some yellow flakes or browning of the foil—don't worry, that's normal.

5. Remove the pieces from the pan using the spoon (be careful, that water's still hot!) and give them a little rinse in cool water. You can wipe them with a soft cloth to help loosen the tarnish.

And that's it! You'll probably have to repeat this a few times, depending on your level of tarnish and how gleaming you want your pieces to get. To repeat, just rinse out your pan and do it all over again—you don't even have to dry it off.


We probably had to treat each piece at least four times, so don't be discouraged by the first attempt. It's especially useful for chains, because you can't rub in all those nooks and crannies, so science does the work for you. SCIENCE! Making magic a reality every day!

All in all, it really was the best kind of weekend.

*Note: some sites recommend not to use baking soda to polish silver because it can be too abrasive. I didn't notice any damage to the pieces we shined, but you may want to use a silver polish or another method if you are worried about hurting your piece.

**The woman from the video we watched is very worried about how you'll handle the boiling water. She suggests keeping your pan near the water so you don't have to carry it far. She REALLY likes to talk about water safety. I trust that you're clever enough to figure out how to use boiling water, but my pro tip is this: don't boil your water in that huge pot! Use a kettle! GOSH, lady!


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