I have been using this easy method to return my sterling silver jewelry to bright and shiny as new ever since learning about it from a customer. It has saved me sooooo much time and elbow grease, and saved me from exposure to who knows what is in those messy polishing creams and liquids.
This method works well for cleaning jewelry made with sterling silver that is intended to have a shiny finish (see first two pictures below). If your jewelry has an intentional patina (see bottom two pictures below) this method will remove it and details that were intentionally dark will become shiny and not as noticeable. I don't recommend this technique for those pieces Do not use this method for cleaning jewelry that has stones.
It works great for cleaning jewelry that is made with handmade lampwork glass beads because the glass can withstand the heat of the boiling water.
You will need:
A heat proof container. I use a pyrex glass pie pan or larger baking dish
Aluminum foil large enough to line the bottom of your container
Enough boiling water to almost fill your container
What to do:
1. Gather your jewelry to clean (read above for which jewelry is safe to clean with this method).
2. Line the bottom of your container with aluminum foil.
3. Lay your jewelry on the aluminum foil in a single layer.
4. Sprinkle a layer of baking soda onto your jewelry.
5. Sprinkle salt on baking soda.
6. Pour boiling water into your container. It will fizz. This is where the cleaning happens. It may smell like sulfur.
7. Let the water cool to room temperature (It's very important that if you are cleaning jewelry with glass beads you don't add cold water because they could crack from the quick temperature change).
8. Drain water from container and rinse your jewelry in fresh water.
9. Dry jewelry with soft clean cloth or lay on towel to air dry.
If your jewelry is extremely tarnished you may need to repeat the process another time.
I hope this method helps you as much as it helps me!