Keeping your jewelry in an airtight (or at least sealed) zip lock bag will keep the air away from the piece effectively reducing oxidation of the silver and other metals such as copper & brass.
When metal cleaning is required, there are several methods you can follow. For hand cleaning I really like the specially treated cloth called the Sunshine cloth. It tackles heavily tarnished parts very well and a cloth lasts for a long time.
The other cloth I really like is the Connoisseurs brand polishing cloth. This cloth has 2 sides, one for cleaning and the other for polishing. It’s a very soft cloth so it’s really handy for quick cleanups. Both of these products can be purchased on Amazon.
Cleaning your Sterling Silver jewelry
It’s incredible how easy it is to clean your jewelry without having to resort to chemicals. If you do a Google search, you’ll find lots of methods for cleaning your metal jewelry, especially your silver jewelry. The one process that comes up over and over is the baking soda method, why, because it works and it’s simple.
Important note: you do not want to use any of these methods on jewelry with soft stones like turquoise, amber, pearls and opals. For these pieces, you should use a soft polishing cloth and a bit of elbow grease. You also don’t want to pour boiling water over glass beads, especially hollow beads or the bubble style beads as these beads are more fragile than a solid glass bead.
Another thing to remember about this method is that it works very well on your tarnished silver but not so well on your base metals like copper, brass or silver plate. This process will dull these metals. For brass and copper, there are other recipes to follow. I would advise that if your jewelry has a mix of metals, you may want to use a polishing cloth on the mixed metal portions.
On that, I’ve tested cleaning brass and silver in the brass cleaning method, and it does just fine on silver as well.
Start with a ceramic or pyrex dish and line it with tin foil, shiny side up. Add your metal jewelry, ensuring the silver is touching the foil. Add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and then add boiling water to cover the jewelry. There will be a lot of bubbling as the mixture reacts, but it will settle in a couple of minutes, and you should notice your jewelry becoming tarnish-free. Give the dish a jiggle to shake things up a bit then leave it until the water cools.
If you are cleaning glass bead jewelry you can use hot water from the tap or the kettle. I’ve even been successful with cold water from the tap, the process doesn’t bubble and takes a little longer to clean but it works and you won’t risk cracking your glass beads.
note: If possible, remove the metals (chains, earwires) from your glass beads and clean the metals separately.
Remove the jewelry and rinse thoroughly to remove any baking soda residue then dry well.
Cleaning your Copper and Brass jewelry
This method works for your copper and brass jewelry very well. It takes a little longer and depending on how dirty your copper and brass pieces are. You may have to do a bit of scrubbing, more about that below.
In a dish, dissolve a teaspoon of salt with a 1/4 cup of white vinegar. (note: lemon juice can also be used with or without the vinegar). Add your jewelry to the mix and let it sit for a few minutes. Depending on how tarnished your metal pieces are, you should see the tarnish disappear within a few minutes.
When you are satisfied with the brightness of your metal, remove the pieces from the solution and rinse thoroughly. Dry well with a soft cloth.
If your jewelry is still tarnished or has a dull finish after the initial cleaning, take a soft cloth and dip it in the salt and vinegar mixture and add a dab of baking soda to your towel to develop a paste. Rub the metal with the mixture until it shines up as desired.
Caring for your glass beads
Cleaning your beads with a mild detergent and warm (or cold) water is effective for removing finger prints and any residue from creams and cosmetics you have on your skin.
Glass beads are generally very strong and can withstand bumping into other glass beads to a point. I generally include spacers between glass beads on a chain but if you are buying loose beads to wear, consider adding a few small spacers between your beads. Spacers can be any shape, size, or material. I like to use small jump rings or silver spacer beads.
Avoid contact with hard surfaces. These beads are strong but are glass and can’t compete with cement, tile, or marble surfaces.