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How to bring back the shine to a malachite inlayed sterling silver bracelet?
March 14, 2009 9:48 PM   Subscribe

How can I remove serious tarnish from a silver bangle. Difficulty level: malachite inlay.

Today, I found what could be a gorgeous silver bangle with malachite inlays. Since malachite is easily damaged, I can't use a tarnish removing dip to shine up this piece of jewelry.

Any advice on how to get the silver shining without discoloring or damaging the malachite would be most appreciated.
posted by burntflowers to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tape the malachite and use a q-tip with some polish.
posted by wongcorgi at 10:18 PM on March 14, 2009


Would one of those "Dip it and it untarnishes instantly" things harm malachite? I bet not, especially if the exposure is brief. (By the way, those things really do work as fast as they show them working on those TV advertisements.)

Or maybe use the Q-tip with that stuff.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:33 PM on March 14, 2009


Have you tried a polishing cloth?
posted by buzzv at 12:29 AM on March 15, 2009


Here is the Society of American Silversmiths advice on cleaning silver. The section on techniques for polishing silver if you are polishing an object with porous attachments would probably work for you.
posted by gudrun at 12:29 AM on March 15, 2009


What is in the polishing dip that might harm the malachite?

This is how I clean silver, its cheap, takes a few seconds and will remove even black tarnish. Line a small dish with aluminium foil, and fill it just enough to cover the bangle with very hot water (the hotter the better, I use freshly boiled water from the kettle) add a tiny bit of bicarbinate of soda and place the objet in the bowl, the tarnish will be removed in seconds. If you think the malachite can't stand a few seconds in hot water you can dip it carefully (the silver has to make contact with the foil) avoiding getting water on the inlay, its harder and slower but it will do the same job. Afterwards you should rinse it off in cold water just to make sure there is no residue.
I have cleaned items containing pearls this way and they were just fine (as Chocolate Pickle says, the exposure is very breif)

Interestingly gudrun's link has this to say about the method:
This process uses an aluminum or aluminum alloy plate and a warm solution of sodium carbonate (washing soda). When the object comes into contact with the plate in the solution, it removes only light tarnish, not the thick, black tarnish produced by years of neglect.

Which just isn't true at all (maybe their water wasn't hot enough or maybe the sodium bicarbiante works better than sodicum carbinate). I clean all my silver this way and have taken several black pieces (both artifically aged with liver of sulphur and stuff that just went black with age) and made them sparkling silver again in seconds. My boyfriend wears a silver chain he got as a gift 17 years ago, the inside of each link was black and the outside was dull, I shined the outside with a polishing cloth but obviously the inside was inaccessible, a few seconds in the bowl and it was sparkling like new.

Obviously this only removes tarnish, you should give it a polish afterwards too with some silver polish, it will improve the shine and protect a little from further tarnish
posted by missmagenta at 1:18 AM on March 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


What missmagenta said, although I'd use a lot of bicarbinate of soda, rather than a little. And it won't remove all the tarnish, you will have to polish it manually when you remove it from the dip. The malachite won't be damaged.
posted by fire&wings at 4:27 AM on March 15, 2009


Just a little googling turned up multiple pages which advise against dipping silver jewelry inlaid with malachite- "The dips, while very effective at removing tarnish, are equally as effective at removing the colour and polish off gemstones. It’s a good rule not to dip any jewellery with stones, but gemstones that are particularly affected are pearls, sodalite, malachite, lapis lazuli, white opals, turquoise or any soft or porous stones."

So, polishing cloth and elbow grease seems like the best bet to me. Is there a jewelry store in your area that might be willing to give you some expert tips?
posted by Mouse Army at 5:47 AM on March 15, 2009


You can use cheap toothpaste to polish silver. If you are careful around the malachite, and rinse it off in warm water afterwards, you should be just fine.
posted by FergieBelle at 8:36 AM on March 15, 2009


Seriously, this is fast and easy and if it doesn't work (which it absolutely will) you can go back to any of the more elaborate suggestions up-thread:

Rub it with original Colgate toothpaste. We've been cleaning silver with Colgate for three generations. Nothing elaborate - just four or five good-sized dollops, rubbed in with a paper towel, wiped off with a slightly damp paper towel, and dried with a cloth. Couldn't be easier.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:07 AM on March 15, 2009


Line a small dish with aluminium foil, and fill it just enough to cover the bangle with very hot water (the hotter the better, I use freshly boiled water from the kettle) add a tiny bit of bicarbinate of soda and place the objet in the bowl, the tarnish will be removed in seconds....Obviously this only removes tarnish, you should give it a polish afterwards too with some silver polish, it will improve the shine and protect a little from further tarnish

Be careful with this, as my recollection is that it's actually removing some silver, too (essentially, using electrolysis). So I wouldn't do this every week with your silver plate. (I have no idea about the malachite).
posted by leahwrenn at 9:41 AM on March 15, 2009


Guys, please read the Society of American Silversmiths link I posted upthread (which even has a resources section telling you where to purchase the products they recommend.) A lot of the methods you are recommending (toothpaste!) will often do long term damage to your silver, as they talk about on that page. So, that may be perfectly fine if you've got some everyday stuff, but please don't do this to great grandma's teapot or jewelry, if you want to have it around to pass on to the next generation.
posted by gudrun at 10:14 AM on March 15, 2009


What about applying a healthy coating of vaseline to the malachite parts, then doing the hot water & soda method?
posted by rhinny at 12:39 AM on March 17, 2009


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