Posted on by Halo Themes

Note, This article was originally written by RSJS Studios for the now defunct International Cufflink Association magazine back in 2012. This technique will work on any silver jewellery pieces. 

flea market find cufflinks

You’ve just come back from the local flea market, and in a pile of junk you’ve found a pair of 1960’s sterling silver fleur de lis cufflinks which you managed to pick up for a steal; reason being they’re buried in so much dirt and tarnish, no- one knew they were silver.

So how do you bring them back to life?

Step 1

cleaning cufflinks and estate jewellery

Firstly we need to loosen up the surface dirt and get rid of the finger grease. To do this, fill a small bowl with warm water and washing up liquid. Give them a quick soak - couple of minutes should be fine here. If God forbid, there is a substance of unknown stickiness on there, leave them to soak until you can easily scrub said substance off with a soft sponge.

Step 2

Use an old towel, doubled over and laid flat and rub the cufflinks along the towel. You can afford to be quite vigorous here. We are trying to shift the surface dirt. Don’t worry about getting them looking clean at this point; that will come in step 4. Tip: If you are regularly cleaning cufflinks, keep reusing the same towel. Over time the towel will get better at doing its job due to minute deposits left every time you rub. It is, however, very important you use a different towel for different metals.

Step 3

Using Q Tips to Clean Cufflinks

If the cufflink is of an intricate design, or you are finding there are small deposits of dirt around the finding, mix up a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio. Using an ear bud [Q-Tip] dab the mixture onto the required area. With a bit of patience and a cocktail stick, you should be able to shift the dirt. Make sure you rinse the cufflink thoroughly with cold water to neutralise the acid afterward.

Step 4

Using aluminum foil to remove tarnish from silver jewellery

Now we are going to remove the tarnishing. To understand how this works, here is a quick run-down on what tarnish actually is. Tarnish is a natural process where silver reacts with sulphur compounds. These compounds are everywhere, for example, food sauces such as mustard and mayonnaise, in the air from the decomposition of animals and plants, and from industrial manufacturing - there is no escape. When these sulphides react with silver a layer of tarnish is formed and over time your silver objects will turn yellow, then brown and then black as the tarnish gets thicker and thicker.

The goods news is we can use that same reaction to reverse the process. Get yourself a small shallow plastic or glass bowl. Place a bit of aluminium foil along the bottom shiny side up.

In a pan, heat up some distilled water (Note. Not tap water as that contains chlorine and other chemicals. You should be able to get distilled water easily from an autoparts store) and add in a cup of baking soda before the water is at boiling point. Stir well.

Place your cufflinks on the foil, and then pour the heated water and baking soda to cover. Now, these sulphides around us love reacting with things, and thankfully they like aluminium even more than silver. You should see the tarnish begin to move from the silver and onto the aluminium. If the tarnish is light, you should see it gone within several minutes; for heavy tarnished pieces - after ten minutes. Take the cufflinks out, reheat the solution, then pour back in and repeat.

Step 5

Goodards silver polish on jewellery

With the tarnish gone, rinse the cufflinks with cold water and dry them using the same towel from earlier on. To complete, use a Goodards silver polish and Goodards polishing cloth and your cufflinks will as if by magic (and a little elbow grease and chemistry), have been brought back to life.

Fleur de Lise Cufflinks cleaned

 

 

Note, This article was originally written by RSJS Studios for the now defunct International Cufflink Association magazine back in 2012. This technique will work on any silver jewellery pieces. 

flea market find cufflinks

You’ve just come back from the local flea market, and in a pile of junk you’ve found a pair of 1960’s sterling silver fleur de lis cufflinks which you managed to pick up for a steal; reason being they’re buried in so much dirt and tarnish, no- one knew they were silver.

So how do you bring them back to life?

Step 1

cleaning cufflinks and estate jewellery

Firstly we need to loosen up the surface dirt and get rid of the finger grease. To do this, fill a small bowl with warm water and washing up liquid. Give them a quick soak - couple of minutes should be fine here. If God forbid, there is a substance of unknown stickiness on there, leave them to soak until you can easily scrub said substance off with a soft sponge.

Step 2

Use an old towel, doubled over and laid flat and rub the cufflinks along the towel. You can afford to be quite vigorous here. We are trying to shift the surface dirt. Don’t worry about getting them looking clean at this point; that will come in step 4. Tip: If you are regularly cleaning cufflinks, keep reusing the same towel. Over time the towel will get better at doing its job due to minute deposits left every time you rub. It is, however, very important you use a different towel for different metals.

Step 3

Using Q Tips to Clean Cufflinks

If the cufflink is of an intricate design, or you are finding there are small deposits of dirt around the finding, mix up a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio. Using an ear bud [Q-Tip] dab the mixture onto the required area. With a bit of patience and a cocktail stick, you should be able to shift the dirt. Make sure you rinse the cufflink thoroughly with cold water to neutralise the acid afterward.

Step 4

Using aluminum foil to remove tarnish from silver jewellery

Now we are going to remove the tarnishing. To understand how this works, here is a quick run-down on what tarnish actually is. Tarnish is a natural process where silver reacts with sulphur compounds. These compounds are everywhere, for example, food sauces such as mustard and mayonnaise, in the air from the decomposition of animals and plants, and from industrial manufacturing - there is no escape. When these sulphides react with silver a layer of tarnish is formed and over time your silver objects will turn yellow, then brown and then black as the tarnish gets thicker and thicker.

The goods news is we can use that same reaction to reverse the process. Get yourself a small shallow plastic or glass bowl. Place a bit of aluminium foil along the bottom shiny side up.

In a pan, heat up some distilled water (Note. Not tap water as that contains chlorine and other chemicals. You should be able to get distilled water easily from an autoparts store) and add in a cup of baking soda before the water is at boiling point. Stir well.

Place your cufflinks on the foil, and then pour the heated water and baking soda to cover. Now, these sulphides around us love reacting with things, and thankfully they like aluminium even more than silver. You should see the tarnish begin to move from the silver and onto the aluminium. If the tarnish is light, you should see it gone within several minutes; for heavy tarnished pieces - after ten minutes. Take the cufflinks out, reheat the solution, then pour back in and repeat.

Step 5

Goodards silver polish on jewellery

With the tarnish gone, rinse the cufflinks with cold water and dry them using the same towel from earlier on. To complete, use a Goodards silver polish and Goodards polishing cloth and your cufflinks will as if by magic (and a little elbow grease and chemistry), have been brought back to life.

Fleur de Lise Cufflinks cleaned