Jewelry Tarnished in Storage: Need Advice Please

by Billie Jean Williams.

question-mark-tan-on-red-grungeHi All, Has anyone had the problem with storing jewelry and then having it tarnish really bad?

If so, how did you remove and restore the pieces?

Help ladies, I really need it.

Thanks all.

Billie Jean Williams


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  1. I recycle those little packs of silica from shoe boxes and the little activated charcoal packs that come in pill bottles. I have them in my jewelry box and my bead storage boxes. In some cases I have one pack per slot depending on what I’m storing (silver) So far, I have had nothing tarnish except a couple of finished pieces that I had hidden from myself (re: lost). Hope that helps!

  2. Hi! If you’re talking about Silver Jewelry, you could try the following process for cleaning:

    As for storage… For pieces that are easy to clean with a polishing cloth, I store together in a dark closet – they’ll get tarnished once in a while, but are easy to clean, so no biggie.
    For pieces that are intricate and difficult to clean, I store pieces separately, in resealable small plastic bags. Sometimes I include anti-tarnish strips.

    From what I see, though – silver will always tarnish, and the best way to slow the process down is to wear your pieces.

    I hope someone chimes in about other metals!

  3. Sandy McDonald says:

    I give my clients a small card with their purchases that has this simple tip printed on it :
    “Want to get rid if tarnish? Rub regular WHITE toothpaste on the piece you want to clean, rinse under running water and VOILA! Clean jewelry.”
    Now if you want a real problem, try coming up with a sollution to this; one of my regular clients has a perspiration problem to a point where necklaces with metal will rust. Other than making non metal jewelry, I have not been able to come up with a solution. I can’t wait to see if any of you have encountered such a problem.
    Thanks for reading me.

  4. This is in reply to Sandy’s question about jewelry rusting while wearing. I recently sold a necklace made using jeweler’s brass, which I find to be a nice substitute for gold. My customers don’t seem to care about what metal…they are more interested in the design and color, thank goodness! Anyway…I got a call one day from that customer and she was very upset because the metal “turned black”. Of course, I agreed to take a look. It was, indeed, very dark and ugly. After researching, it seems brass is a metal that turns dark on some people, just like copper does on some people. I replaced the metal in this necklace using jeweler’s brass but coated the brass pieces first with a product from EuroTool called Jewelry Shield. I wrote her a long explanation of the nature of metal and why it may turn color on some people due to their body chemistry. She was happy with my attention, solution, and explanation. It may be that clear nail polish would work, too, but I don’t know that for sure.

  5. Spray lacquer is a really good solution for some kinds of jewelry. It dries fast (10-30 min) and it’s a lot like using clear nail polish but in spray form. Anything containing copper will discolor eventually, so that means brass (including jewelers brass), bronze, copper, and sterling. For storage, I have rarely had a problem if I store the jewelry in a way that can’t get moist. I store silver, brass, copper, and rarely have tarnish problems. after a number of years,yes, but months? No. If you put away your jewelry in high humidity, take it back out at home, be sure it’s dry, and then put it away again. You will be storing air in the bags and boxes, and this needs to be dry air. Using silicone and charcoal packets is a great solution. Anti-tarnish strips is another, both mentioned above. Also, don’t store in paper boxes. I have had no trouble with baggies or plastic boxes. Even my earrings, which live on paper cards on my earrings racks, only need occasional cleaning. I store them wrapped with pieces of an old quilt for protection, They are fine as long as they stay dry. I find the worst problems come from doing shows in high humidity. It isn’t the storage that troubles the silver, it’s the humidity during the shows and the moisture trapped with them later.
    Sandy -If your client’s jewelry is actually rusting, it must contain iron. Tell her she needs to stop wearing steel or iron based metal, which needs to be a) coated and b) kept dry. She may want to switch to high-karat god (18 or above has little copper) or fine silver (no copper). Or she can wax or lacquer her jewelry from time to time, cleaning it first. When I wear pendants in summer (I sweat a lot), the backs can become discolored. I wear sterling. I just clean them frequently (polishing cloth, toothpaste, comet, etc). Keeping them either coated or dry is the key.

  6. I dip most of my plated metal pieces in liquid floor polish (Dollar Store brand) and let them dry. It’s not expensive but does the job of keeping most items from tarnishing. I’ve never tried it with Copper or Sterling Silver, however I imagine it would also work.

  7. Billie Jen says:

    Thank you all for the great comments. The damage has been done, I’m just trying to figure out a way to get rid of the really badly tarnish. Going forward I will be storing them much differently. thank you all again
    Billie Jean

  8. After losing a…heart-breaking number of items in one swoop due to improper storage (gift boxes) and high humidity, i found several tricks. My current storage method is plastic stacking jewel display boxes and felt tray inserts (Ebay) for pendants and necklaces. I lay a single piece of cut-to-size silver-cloth (anti-tarnish treated cloth) over each insert. Thanks for the idea Rena! For bracelets, I sewed the same cloth on a bamboo placemat (dollar store), added some muslin on top and roll it up. I’ll switch the bracelets to their own tray once I get another insert, but this method has worked well.

    I adore the anti-tarnish cloth. I haven’t had a single problem, AND it doubles as a polishing cloth for fingerprints. This has to be done carefully, but in a pinch it works. I bought mine at Jo-Ann while it was on sale and used a holiday coupon. It is a bit pricey, but well worth it in my opinion. You can cut up the scraps and use them in place of the paper strips, which I’ve done. Not only does this cloth last years, but it’s far more versatile than paper.

    But tarnish still happens, no matter our best intentions. I’ve found that certain plated wires tarnish before others, and that plated wires as a whole will tarnish faster than pure metal. I use copper, plated copper and stainless steel, so I can’t speak for precious metals.

    Hope this helps!

  9. Linda Harrison says:

    I have found that Tarnex for silver works well, but i am really liking Heidi`s idea on silica packs think im gonna try that. I also carry a jewelry buffing cloth with me that works good on my copper jewelry. There are some great ideas here thank you everyone HAPPY SELLING

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