Otherwise known as “oxidation," tarnish naturally occurs on various metals after the piece is exposed to air; in the case of including silver, tarnishing occurs when it's exposed to hydrogen sulfide. While some view dark tarnishing as an eyesore, other jewelry collectors prize their pieces of oxidized silver jewelry. It's possible to speed up this natural process at home by safely exposing your silver jewelry directly to oxygen and a food you might already have stored in your refrigerator door: eggs.
Lower one or two large eggs into a medium-sized saucepan. Fill the saucepan halfway with water. Bring the water to a hard boil and cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Turn off the heat and allow the eggs to hard boil in the pan for 10 to 12 minutes.
Pour the eggs and water into a colander. Rinse the eggs under a cold tap until they're cool to the touch. Place the eggs onto a plate and carefully peel away the shell. Cut the eggs into small pieces and place them inside a gallon zippered plastic bag.
Mix 3 cups cool water and 1 teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap. Dampen the corner of a cotton washcloth with the soapy water and clean off the silver jewelry. Rinse the jewelry under a cool tap and pat it dry with a separate washcloth.
Slip the jewelry inside the zippered plastic bag with the hard-boiled eggs. Close the baggie and place it in a warm spot in your kitchen. The warmer the eggs, the more quickly your jewelry will tarnish. Check on the jewelry every 15 to 20 minutes and pull out the piece when you're satisfied with the color. Depending on the room's temperature, it might take one hour to 24 hours for the piece to tarnish.
Remove the jewelry from the zippered plastic bag. If the piece is too dark, gently wipe it off with a damp washcloth to remove the excess oxidation or tarnish. Store the piece as usual.
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- If the hard-boiled egg smell becomes an issue, place the plastic bag inside the refrigerator. However, be aware that this will slow down the oxidation rate.
Residing in Chippewa Falls, Wis., Jaimie Zinski has been writing since 2009. Specializing in pop culture, film and television, her work appears on Star Reviews and various other websites. Zinski is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in history at the University of Wisconsin.
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