How To Make Copper Jewelry Shine Again

If you have copper jewelry, you may notice it is quick to tarnish. Copper is one of the oldest mined substances used to make earrings, beads, and rings, but it can fade with constant exposure to air. It is possible to remove the tarnish yourself. Here are some tips to remove tarnish from copper jewelry.

Prepare to Clean

For this project, you need:

  • two shallow bowls
  • airtight plastic bags
  • polishing cloths (sold at jewelry stores)
  • wood spatula
  • soft-bristled toothbrush
  • ketchup or sauces
  •  lemon juice or lemon slice
  • salt
  • cream of tartar (optional)
  • baking soda

The cleaning solution that you use depends on if the jewelry is lacquered. Lacquered jewelry commonly does not tarnish, but it can still fade. To clean lacquered jewelry, rub it gently with a polishing cloth. Don't remove the tarnish from antique jewelry, as it could reduce the value of the piece.

Soak Less Fragile Pieces in Lemon Juice

Lemon is excellent for cleaning less fragile jewelry without stones. Set the jewelry in one bowl. Fill the other bowl with cold water, and a teaspoon of baking soda, then stir the ingredients using the wood spatula.

Add a cup of lemon juice to the bowl with the jewelry; making sure it is complete covered. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt over the mixture. Let the jewelry soak for two minutes, then rinse it under cold tap water.

Return the jewelry to the baking soda to remove traces of lemon juice. You may also sprinkle salt on the pieces, and rub them with a lemon slice, then rinse.

For tarnish that is tough to remove, spread a mixture of salt, lemon juice, and cream of tartar on the pieces with the toothbrush. Let the jewelry soak for a minute or two, then rinse under cold tap water. Dry the jewelry with a polishing cloth.

Clean Fragile Pieces with Ketchup or Sauces

Use ketchup or sauces to clean pieces that have detailing. Squirt a small amount of ketchup on the jewelry, rub it in with your fingers, then let it soak for a minute or two.

Avoid getting ketchup on stones. Clean cracks or crevices with a toothbrush. Rinse the pieces under cold tap water, and dry with a soft cloth. You can also substitute tomato sauces or hot wing sauces.

Now that your jewelry shines once again, seal it in an airtight bag when you aren't wearing them to keep tarnish from forming. Adding a lacquer coat to a piece will help preserve it. If you are unsure what the piece is made from, or you need a piece lacquered, visit a jewelry store.