Monday, May 23, 2011

Cleaning Jewelry (Specifically Chainmaille)

A question I've often been asked at shows is how to clean the silver jewelry that I've made, particularly as chainmaille is not something that you can just take some silver polish and a polishing cloth to and clean like you would a more traditionally made piece of jewelry.  However, chainmaille is actually very easy to clean.

Most jewelers clean their work in a tumbler, but not everyone (particularly among the buyers) has a tumbler.

So here is how you can clean silver, gold, and gold-filled jewelry without having a tumbler.

All you need is a small water-tight container and lid, water, and dish soap (use blue Dawn dish soap, some the other kinds can leave residue on your jewelry) (you can do this with or without metal tumbling shot).

After you've put everything in and put the lid on securely, gently shake the container. It only needs a gentle swirling motion similar to what it would get in a tumbler. Basically, what you are doing is turning the jar into a tumbler. The time will vary slightly depending on the size of the objects you're cleaning, but with earrings/pendants it only takes 2-3 minutes.  If the jewelery is badly tarnished, then you may need to do this for a bit longer. 

When finished, thoroughly rinse (rinsing in hot water will help it dry faster) and dry everything off.

I've used this method to clean/polish pieces that had metals or stones in them that I wasn't certain about putting in a tumbler, such as enameled copper and dyed pearls, and it cleaned/polished them just as well as a tumbler would have.

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