Have you looked at your favorite silver necklace lately? I mean really looked at it? If you’ve been wearing it a lot this summer, it probably looks different than it did a few months ago. It’s probably tarnished and dirty. Dirty jewelry… Ewww!


Dirty jewelry - silver chains



Hot summer days take a toll on jewelry. Humidity robs metal of its shine and hastens oxidization (tarnish). Skin oils and sweat, as well as sunscreens and other lotions and sprays, also affect metals turning them darker and giving your jewelry a dingy, dirty appearance.

This natural process happens so gradually that you might not have noticed. Compare your favorite necklace or earrings with the ones that sat in your jewelry box most of the summer. You’ll see what I mean.


I made the copper necklace below using the same chain that is on the spool. Not only did it tarnish, but it is much darker in the back (near the clasp) where the necklace touches my skin.

This is a good example of dirty jewelry.

Dirty jewelry - copper necklace


Can you pick out the NEW earrings below?

I wore the ones on the left for about six months without realizing how much they had changed.

Dirty jewelry - silver earrings

The Cure for Dirty Jewelry

Wash it

Washing dirty jewelry

Your can use a soft toothbrush and mild dishwashing liquid in warm water to clean jewelry. Soak it for a minute or two and brush it gently. Rinse, and dry with a soft towel. Be especially gentle on pieces that contain porous gemstones such as turquoise or pearls.


Polish it

Polishing cloth for dirty jewelry

Dry polishing cloths that are designed to clean jewelry work well on silver, copper, gold, and other metals. The cloth darkens as it removes the tarnish and dirt. The downside is that the cloth can’t be washed and reused but it lasts for a long time. When it is used up, toss it and buy a new one.


Dip it

Chemicals for cleaning dirty jewelry

Commercial chemical solutions for cleaning dirty jewelry are fine for some metals. They are available at your local department stores. Read the label for all warnings and be aware that the chemicals can damage gemstones. Delicate stones such as pearls and turquoise can dissolve in a jewelry cleaning solution.


Warning! Oxidized or Antiqued Jewelry


Some jewelry is purposely “antiqued” or oxidized as part of the style. This antiquing is NOT permanent and will come off if you polish it or dip it in chemicals. Swish it around in warm soapy water and then rinse it with clean water. Pat it dry with a soft cloth.


Other Cleaning Methods for Jewelry

There are other ways you can bring back the shine to your dirty jewelry at home. I’ll cover these methods and much more in my upcoming ebook about jewelry care.

Sign up for Jularee’s email list now and you’ll be one of the first to receive a FREE copy when it is published!


?  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!  ?


  • To deter tarnish, store each piece of jewelry in its own air-tight, zip-lock bag.
  • Don’t wear your jewelry to the beach or in a pool.
  • Use all cosmetics, creams, hairsprays, perfumes, etc. before putting on your jewelry.
  • When you take jewelry with you on vacation, use individual zip lock bags to prevent tangles and scratches.
Additional Note

Purchase a sterling silver necklace or bracelet from Jularee, and receive a complimentary sample polishing cloth (1.5 x 2.5 in.) to try. You don’t have to ask for it or have a coupon. It’s automatically included.

Full-sized cloths (7.5 x 5 in.) are available for purchase in Jularee’s “Charms, Chains, Supplies” section.