Prevent Tarnish on Your Jewelry Inventory

© by Rena Klingenberg; all rights reserved.

If you can prevent tarnish from forming on your jewelry, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort in cleaning your jewelry before every show and party.

What Exactly is Tarnish, and What Causes It?

Preventing tarnish on jewelry is far less work than removing it!

Preventing tarnish on jewelry is
far less work than removing it!

Tarnish is a layer of corrosion that develops on many metals, particularly sterling silver.

Sulfur and other airborne chemicals are the main cause of tarnish, and jewelry tarnishes much faster if it’s left out in the open than if it’s stored away in an acid-free, closed container.

The metal of tarnished jewelry has a darkened, dull appearance, which can really reduce your sales.

Keeping your jewelry inventory sparkling and bright makes it sell much better.

It’s so much less work to prevent tarnish than to have to remove it.

I really don’t mind cleaning each piece of my jewelry inventory once, right after I finish creating it.

But I do mind the extremely time-consuming process of having to haul out and re-clean my entire inventory, to shine it up for upcoming shows!

6 Ways to Prevent Tarnish
from Building up on Your Jewelry

. . . so hopefully you can sell it with just that first cleaning!

Closed Plastic Bags

Store individual pieces of jewelry in sealed zip-close baggies. Or store entire displays that are already loaded with your inventory inside large, heavy-duty trash bags that are tightly closed.

Also store your metal jewelry supplies (wire, findings, headpins, earwires, etc.) in tightly sealed plastic bags.

Silver Tarnish Cloth

Or, if you store your jewelry inventory loaded onto your displays, you can wrap or cover the displays with Silver Tarnish Cloth (also sometimes called Pacific Cloth), which is available by the yard at fabric stores.

I bought several yards of Silver Tarnish Cloth at a local fabric store, using a 50% discount coupon I printed from the store’s website. Then I took the cloth home and cut pieces of it to fit perfectly on top of each jewelry tray and around every other loaded display I have.

(You may also want to cut pieces of it to fit inside the drawers or compartments of your personal jewelry box!)

No-Tarnish Strips

Regardless of how you store your jewelry, put no-tarnish strips in with your inventory, and change the strips every two to three months. Mark the next changing date on your calendar so you don’t forget to put in fresh no-tarnish strips regularly.

If your jewelry is displayed in a small, closed case in a shop or gallery, consider putting some of these strips in an unobtrusive spot inside the case.

Chalk

Instead of no-tarnish strips, you can substitute a few pieces of regular chalkboard chalk in with your jewelry. The chalk works similarly to the strips, absorbing the airborne substances that cause tarnish.

Chalk should also be changed every couple of months.

Quick Wipedown

At the end of every jewelry show or party, give each piece of jewelry a quick wipe with a Sunshine cloth or other jewelry cleaning/polishing cloth. (If it was an outdoor show, do a little more thorough wipe-down.)

This will remove anything that settled on the surface of your jewelry while it was out of its closed storage, and will really help prevent tarnish from forming.

You can do a wipedown very quickly before you take down your jewelry display – just run the cloth rapidly over everything as though you were doing a speedy dusting job.

Then store your jewelry in one of the ways recommended above to keep tarnishing elements away from it.

Acid-Free Paperstock

Use acid-free paper or cardstock for your jewelry tags, earring cards, and any other paper goods or packaging that are stored in the same container with your jewelry.

To Remove Tarnish from Jewelry:

How to Clean Tarnished Silver Jewelry
Here’s an easy way to clean tarnished silver jewelry, using a few things you already have in your kitchen. Unlike silver polish, this jewelry cleaning method does not remove any of the silver.

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Comments

  1. This is great info, thanks. Didn’t know that about chalk. It also helps to polish the pieces with Renaissance Wax. It’s museum grade wax that helps to seal the surface. Works on a variety of materials.

  2. Another quick way to remove tarnish is with regular orange juice. Just pour some into a container large enough for jewelry pieces add jewelry and let soak for a few minutes. It works great on filigree pieces and mesh jewelry.
    Remove and rinse well and dry. I keep an 8 ounce bottle of OJ in refrigerator marked “Do not drink tarnish remover”. You can reuse the OJ a few times also.

  3. I have used freshly squeezed lemon juice on silver and mexican silver before, but wondered if orange would work too. Anything acidic I guess.. Good to know!

    I have a question though, as I couldn’t see it mentioned here…… which metals (other than silver) does the silver tarnish fabric and no-tarnish strips work for? Is it okay with copper for instance? This is what I mainly work with…….

    Has anyone experience with this?

  4. I use it with copper and it seems to work fine.
    I know that any moisture what so ever causes the copper to tarnish rapidly.
    I’ve even used the packets that come in dog treats in with my copper pieces. I always place these packets in with my metal tools and supplies.

  5. Thanks for sharing. This tarnish issue always bothers me. My solution is to store jewelry in airtight zip bags and I also pack my piece in a air tight bag once it is sold with a note on it “Please store jewelry in this bag to prevent tarnish and retain luster for a very long time.” This way the piece remains fresh even with the customer for a long time. Keeping her happy.

  6. EXCELLENT! THANK YOU! On Maui we have the sulfur from the volcano and also from the sugar cane burning, constantly! Thanks for these wonderful tips! It drives me nuts!!! We make beautiful jewelry only to have it tarnished. You are so appreciated!

  7. Good information. I learned about chalk and find that interesting. My grandsons have a lot of side walk chalk. Big pieces. Would that be the same composition? I would expect so just larger pieces.
    I also like Nafsia’s idea to put a note with sold items to remind people about ways to prevent tarnish. It makes them more satisfied with your silver pieces rather than not because they tarnish. Great idea.

  8. Thanks for all your great additional no-tarnish tips!

    Bev, I’m sure sidewalk chalk would work just as well – but it may be easier to use small chunks of it since those chalk sticks are so big! :)

    Renee, interesting about using orange juice – I hadn’t heard of that before but it makes sense.

    Michelle, the no-tarnish fabric and strips should work equally well on copper. The tiny amount of copper that’s in sterling silver is why sterling tarnishes – so if the no-tarnish fabric and strips work on sterling silver, they should work on copper too.

  9. Rena, OJ works great on intricate chains that you can’t get the braiding cleaned with just polishing.
    I believe that I learned this trick from an elderly lady I worked with when I did antique restorations and sales.

  10. Saving all these tips…thank you!

  11. I was wondering what to do about brass/stone beads that leave a dark spot on the adjacent beads when stringing on a bracelet or necklace. I am constantly wiping a dark gray film off of the adjacent beads and was wondering if I clean them really well and apply a small area of clear nail polish to the sides that will eliminate the problem. Anyone have any thought or infer for me?

  12. Thank you for this great information. I do chain maille using different metals and was wondering if dipping my chain maille pieces in OJ would remove tarnish, particularly copper and brass. Thanks!

  13. Paula S. says:

    Where can I buy this tarish cloth/material and little ring bag.

  14. Hi Paula, the no-tarnish cloth is available at many fabric stores (such as Hancock Fabric in the U.S.). They may call it “silver cloth” or “pacific cloth”.

    Small jewelry bags are available from most jewelry suppliers, bead shops, etc.

  15. Elaine Stein says:

    Thank you so much for great ideas. I have been making jewelry for years and am now opening my own Jewelry and Antique Store. Cleaning all that Silver is so time consuming. Your tips are much apreciated.

  16. Great comments. I notice that some of the spacers and crimp beads tarnish. I have had to re-do several necklaces because the gold or silver spacers tarnish and that is NOT a good presentation. Any suggestions.

  17. For me, one of the best ways to keep jewelry in great condition is to keep it in a sealed container so foreign elements cannot enter.

  18. Thanks for the great tips shared here. Will it help to prevent tarnish if I apply clear nail polish to spacers and crimp beads. A great piece I did last year really look awful now because of the tarnished spacers. Can I put pieces with wooden beads in OJ or lemon juice to remove the tarnish on the metal beads?

  19. Hi Irene, thank you for asking. I have never used orange juice or lemon juice on jewelry components, so I don’t know what affect they might have.

    I have also never applied clear nail polish to metal jewelry components and don’t know how well that might work, or what drawbacks there might be.

    However, the best way to find out is to experiment on similar components that you wouldn’t mind getting messed up if it turned out that the juices / nail polish were damaging to them. It’s better to test a few components than a finished piece of jewelry you like. :)

  20. Rena, due to my arthritis, etc., I take many medications and vitamins too. Most all of them come with those moisture absorbers. I save these and keep in containers with all of my findings and have had really good results!

  21. That’s good to know, Julia – and also nice that they can be recycled in such a useful way! Thank you for sharing this helpful tip. :)

  22. Rena, those moisture absorbers come in many things,new purses, shoes, leather coats, even my dog”s chews!

  23. Karen Sorey says:

    We have recently moved to Spanish Fort, Alabama from our home in Ridgeland, Mississippi of 17 years. I started crafting jewelry 9 years ago, so of course, my stash has grown to enormous portions. I kept it all in the built in cabinets and my antique buffet. (I’m beginning to believe that they are procreating all by themselves because surely I haven’t got THIS MUCH STUFF!) For now we are living in a temporary two bedroom corporate apartment of 800 sq. ft. from our 2500 sq. ft. stuffed to the gills. I’m wondering how to tarnish proof my supplies since I have to keep them in those plastic divider containers. Any suggestions?…I have roughly 30 containers…and my husband says “it’s either the jewelry supplies or my clothes and shoes!, we don’t have room for both!” (I don’t mind so much about the clothes, but, my shoes are a different matter entirely…….)

  24. You can also use thouse Packets in a container with Super Glue and it is never dry out :)

    Silica Gel Silicon Packets

  25. Eva Bowers says:

    How can tarnish be prevented with silver pieces that have leather.
    Like necklaces and bracelets.

    Thanks for any sugestions

  26. Eva, I save the little moisture absorbing packets that come in leather purses, shoes, coats, etc. I use them in my silver findings containers to prevent tarnish with very good results.
    These also come in some vitamins, medications and even my dogs’ treats!

  27. Karen Sorey says:

    I knew there was a reason I saved all those little packets that come in various purchases I make….although my husband is ready to buy a house with 6 bedrooms…4 for me, 1 for the two of us to SLEEP in and 1 for our son! (the last of six children). Make that 8 bedrooms, we have 7 grandchildren also…and since we live close to the beach, make that a castle!!!! LOL

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