If you are worried and pondering “how to polish tarnished silver jewelry,” then you stumbled upon the right blog. No worries! We are here to help you out.

We all have some silver jewelry pieces and ornaments in our jewelry boxes that we adore the most, but these are not wearable. Why? Because the articles have been covered in awful black or brown tarnish. 

You may have the perfect dress paired with the perfect shoes, but you open your jewelry box and find your perfect jewelry match all covered in tarnish! It feels like the worst dream! 

So, we all want to keep our favorite silver jewelry articles intact. One way to renew your silver jewelry articles is to polish them. We will be discussing different polishing methods and steps to polish the articles, but before that, we want our readers to know what tarnish exactly seems like and why it happens. 

A Little About Silver Tarnish!

a little about silver tarnish

Tarnish is a product of a chemical reaction between a metal and a non-metal compound, most commonly oxygen and sulfur dioxide, which forms a metal oxide (and sometimes metal sulfide or chloride) on the metal. 

When silver is exposed to gases in the air – especially sulfur – it discolors and darkens as it reacts with the gas to form a layer of tarnish on the surface. You can easily identify it as it forms a yellow, brown, grey, or black layer on the surface of silver jewelry. It’s a completely normal process and, thus, is inevitable! 

As compared to pure silver, sterling silver is more prone to tarnish, with darker layers, but pure silver also develops a thin grey oxide layer with the passage of time.  

Removing Tarnish

removing tarnish

Though it destroys the gleam and luster of silver, the good part is the normal tarnish on the silver is not corrosive, and the metal beneath the tarnish remains intact. Therefore, special care is needed to remove the tarnish so that it might not cause any scratches on the metal beneath. 

Tarnish removal can be done by 3 processes majorly, by polishing, chemical dips, and electrochemical reduction. But here, we will be focusing more on polishing as the other methods are mostly used for other silver objects. For jewelry, polishing is preferred. 

How to Polish Tarnished Silver Jewelry

how to polish tarnished silver jewelry

Polishing Cloth

You must have a good quality silver polishing cloth as a part of your silver cleaning kit. It is very helpful as it can remove heavy tarnish as compared to other methods, such as chemical dips. It gives your jewelry a lovely shine, and the process is quicker and easier than other methods of cleaning silver artifacts. 

Polishing cloths have an abrasive material engraved in them, which removes the tarnish from the surface. It is to be gently rubbed against the jewelry surface, and you need to be careful as rubbing harshly may scuff the metal, leaving scratches. The polishing cloth, however, is less abrasive than the silver polish or creams (we will be discussing these later in the article).

While removing the tarnish, the polishing cloth will start turning black, and once completely black or grey, discard the cloth as it might not be removed further. Once you are done with cleaning, make sure that you rinse the articles, as any residue might cause further tarnish. After rinsing the articles, wipe them with a soft cloth and let them dry. 


If you have any articles that require no water contact, you should go for this polishing method. 

Instead of water, the wadding polish contains an organic solvent. But there might be greater chances of residues such as abrasive particles with this polishing method, so make sure that after using it, clean it with a soft brush or a soft cloth. 

Silver Polish or Cream

If your silver jewelry is badly tarnished, and you find yourself worrying about “how to polish tarnished silver jewelry,” or you keep wondering which polish you can use now, then we recommend you to use silver polishes or creams. 

Make sure that you use the polishes specifically for silver, as the ones that can be used with the range of metals can be more abrasive. 

Only use the best quality silver polishes that are gentler because, usually, the polishes are more abrasive than any other methods of silver cleaning or polishing. And using silver polish is only recommended if your jewelry is heavily tarnished. 

Last But Not Least: The Homemade Polish!

If you don’t find any suitable polish and are still wondering “how to polish your tarnished silver jewelry”, just go to your kitchen, grab the baking soda, add a little water to make a thick paste, and then apply it on the jewelry. 

Use the cloth to gently rub the polish into the tarnished area in a circular motion, then rinse it with the warm water thoroughly and make sure that no residual polish is lifted. Dry it with a soft, dry cloth. Use a brush to remove the polish from the intricacies. 

Some Important Considerations!

some important considerations

These are a few pro tips and some important considerations while polishing your tarnished silver jewelry. 

  • Always clean the article first so as to avoid the interference of other particles with the tarnish removal process. 
  • If your article is silver-plated, polish it with extra care, as polishing is abrasive by nature, and if not being careful, you might damage the silver layer. 
  • You can always keep your jewelry items in storage cases or use the tarnish-inhibiting products available in the market to slow down the tarnishing process. 
  • Polishes often leave a fine pattern of scratches behind, so the extent of this scratching can be identified by testing and using the polish on unscratched Plexiglas. The depth and pattern of scratching imprinted on the Plexiglas will be similar to what would appear on the silver surface.

The Bottom Line!

In the blog, we have tried our best to address your concern about “how to polish tarnished silver jewelry.” We have explained what tarnishing actually seems like, how it happens, and what kind of polishing methods you can use that suits your jewelry. So now, grab your jewelry boxes, rush to the market, buy your perfect polishing match, and if you don’t find any, just make it at your home. Be careful and gentle during the polishing process, and apply it with love and care.


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