Can Tarnished Silver Be Restored?

With its versatility, timelessness and durability, there is a lot to love about silver jewellery.  But because of its susceptibility to tarnishing, it needs to be properly cared for. 

Those with an extensive collection of pure silver and sterling silver jewellery will be quite familiar with tarnish and what it does to your jewellery. Tarnish is the result of a chemical reaction that can turn your beautiful, sparkly silver earrings or timeless silver chains into dull bits of metal that look like they have been resting at the bottom of the ocean. But what causes tarnish and can tarnished silver be restored? Read on to find all that out and more.


What Is Tarnish?

Tarnishing occurs when the chemicals in pure silver or sterling silver jewellery react to moisture and sulphuric gases in the air. This causes a chemical reaction that results in your jewellery turning from a luscious and iridescent silver tone to a dull browny-red and copper colour. But that’s not all, tarnishing can also disfigure and weaken your jewellery.

And while tarnish can occur in other types of jewellery including brass, titanium, platinum, gold-plated, silver-plated and bronze, it is perhaps most commonly associated with pure silver and sterling silver. This is because a lot of the compounds in silver, particularly sterling silver (which is made up of around 7.5% copper and/or zinc), is very reactive to substances like sulphur and moisture. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent tarnishing on your silver jewellery.

Learn more: Is There A Difference Between Silver And Sterling Silver?

How To Prevent Silver Jewellery From Tarnishing

Prevention is better than cure in all things and there are several ways to prevent tarnish in silver jewellery. The best and easiest way is to make sure you’re storing your jewellery properly. 

To protect your silver jewellery:

  • Keep your jewellery in a cool and dry spot, because tarnish thrives in environments that are prone to moisture and sunlight. This means avoiding storing your jewellery in the bathroom!

  • Avoid wrapping up your silver jewellery in a piece of newspaper or placing it on wood as the chemicals in newspaper ink as well as treated wood can also react to your jewellery resulting in tarnish. 

  • Store your silver jewellery with items that can help absorb moisture such as chalk, felt and silica gel.

  • Keep your jewellery separated by type.

  • Learn how to clean silver jewellery properly.

But what happens if your jewellery is already tarnished? Can tarnished silver be restored? It sure can, read on.

Can Tarnished Silver Be Restored? 

Even though there are ways to minimise your chances of tarnish, it is unfortunately pretty much inevitable that your silver jewellery is going to become somewhat tarnished at some point in its lifetime. But, can tarnished silver be restored? While it may depend on exactly how tarnished your jewellery is, you will be very happy to know that, all is not lost, you can remove tarnish from your jewellery and return it to its original glory.

Depending on the type of silver your jewellery is made of, whether it be fine silver or sterling silver, there are a myriad of ways you can restore your pieces. Best of all, they can all be done at home with a minimal budget. But before you even attempt to get out any cleaning products or buy a polishing cloth, you should first determine what type of jewellery you have in your collection. 

Arguably the most common silver in jewellery collections is made of sterling silver jewellery. Consisting of around 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper or zinc, sterling silver is generally the more affordable option due to it being less pure. However, that’s not a bad thing – sterling silver jewellery is the most durable type of silver as it is incredibly hard-wearing and robust.

On the contrary, fine silver is as pure as silver can get, containing over 99.9% of the familiar metal. As a result, pure silver is a lot more soft and malleable than sterling silver jewellery and therefore is often reserved for fine jewellery or gold-filled jewellery. 

Let’s look at how to restore different types of tarnished silver jewellery below.

How To Remove Tarnish on Silver Jewellery

There are countless ways to restore your silver jewellery to its former glory. Below are three methods that will help remove tarnish whether your jewellery is fine silver, sterling silver or contains diamonds. The great thing about these methods is that you can do them yourself! So without further ado, here is how to remove tarnish on silver jewellery at home.

How To Remove Tarnish on Fine Silver Jewellery 

Laundry detergent and aluminium foil

Laundry detergent and aluminium foil is not only super-effective at helping to remove tarnish on your silver jewellery but it is also incredibly gentle. This is why it is a preferred method for removing tarnish on fine silver, as it is non-abrasive and less likely to lead to scuffing on what is a very delicate type of jewellery. Given that most of us likely have laundry detergent and alfoil in a cupboard at home somewhere, this method is also one of the more cost-effective ways for removing tarnish.

To use this method: 

  • Line a small bowl with aluminium foil, fill it with around a cup of warm water and add a tablespoon of your common household laundry detergent.

  • Following this, stir the mixture well until it becomes soapy. Then place your jewellery in the bowl allowing it to soak for around a minute or two depending on how tarnished it is. 

  • Once the items have been thoroughly soaked, remove your jewellery with a pair of tongs and rinse them under cold to lukewarm water. Then lay the pieces on a paper towel to dry.

How To Remove Tarnish on Sterling Silver Jewellery

Bi-carb soda

Bi-carb soda is an effective way to remove tarnish because it helps to dissolve organic compounds such as dirt, grease and grime.

To use this method: 

  • Start by lining a small bowl with aluminium foil. 

  • Following this, pour in some warm water and around a tablespoon of bi-carb soda in the bowl. 

  • Begin mixing around the bi-carb soda with a small spoon until it begins to form a paste-like consistency.

  • After that, place your sterling silver into the bowl and leave it there until the baking soda mix hardens and sticks to your jewellery. 

  • Following this, rinse off the baking soda with warm water, paying particular attention to small crevices —especially if you are cleaning silver huggie earrings or silver stud earrings, and then dry it with a soft cloth. 

How To Remove Tarnish on Silver Diamond Jewellery


As one of the hardest minerals on this earth, diamonds are extremely tough. But even diamonds set in silver are prone to tarnishing. Silver diamond bracelets, diamond pendants and diamond rings are particularly susceptible because they’re more likely to be exposed to common chemicals that can lead to tarnishing such as makeup, fake tan, perfume, deodorant, hand sanitiser and more. 

This means you have to bring in serious reinforcements like ammonia to get your silver diamond jewellery sparkling once again. Ammonia is a strong chemical consisting of hydrogen and nitrogen that is often used in the household for cleaning. Even though it is a slightly more risky at-home method that you should only do every once in a while, it is great for removing the harshest of tarnish and getting your diamond jewellery looking brand-spanking new again.  

To use this method: 

  • Before cleaning your jewellery with ammonia, you should put on a pair of gloves to avoid the chemical coming into contact with the skin and causing mild irritation or worse. 

  • Following this, pour half a cup of ammonia into a small bowl with around two cups of cold or lukewarm water. 

  • After this, gently place your diamond jewellery into the solution and let it sit in the solution for ten minutes so that the ammonia has the time to work its magic. 

  • Once you have done this, gently remove the jewellery from the solution and buff it dry with a soft cloth and then your jewellery should look as good as new. 

So, there you have it. The answer to “can tarnished silver be restored?” is a resounding “yes!”. You can even do it at home on a budget! Want more handy tips and tricks about silver jewellery? Check out the blogs below.

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