Prevent Tarnish on Your Jewelry Inventory

© by Rena Klingenberg; all rights reserved.

How to Prevent Tarnish on Your Jewelry - by Rena Klingenberg

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.


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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