Slashpile Designs Blog

How to clean silver jewellery September 11 2012

The vast majority of jewellery that we make at Slashpile Designs is sterling silver. We love silver because it's such a versatile colour and it's really affordable (especially when compared to other precious metals such as gold and platinum!) The one downside to silver is that it tarnishes. If exposed to water, or if left in the open air for a period of time, silver can lose it's shine and become slightly blackened as it oxidizes. But never fear--this is only a reaction that happens on the surface of the metal and it is, in actual fact, super easy to clean off!

Here are a few ways you can clean your silver jewellery using common, household items.

My favourite method is simply using toothpaste. Yes, just toothpaste. If you use just a little bit of white or light blue toothpaste (an opaque kind, not a translucent gel kind) and a little bit of water, you can get your silver looking bright and shiny again in about 30 seconds. I often just use my fingers to clean the piece, but an old toothbrush or a cloth can help you get into all the nooks and crannies.

Another method is to make a paste out of baking soda and water. You can use a clean sponge over the surface of the metal. If your piece is REALLY tarnished, you might want to let it soak for an hour or so in a mixture of baking soda and water. Again, you can use a sponge or old toothbrush to really scrub it clean after it soaks.

You can also buy a silver polishing cloth, available at most grocery stores. The brand we use is Goddard's Silver Polishing Cloth. Simply use the cloth to wipe the dry surface of the silver. It lasts pretty much forever and you can even keep it in your jewellery box so it's always handy when you need it.

In each of these cases, make sure your jewellery is nice and dry after cleaning to prevent it from tarnishing again right away. You can also make sure it stays shiny for longer by storing it in a dry, airtight place and by removing your jewellery before you shower or go swimming. By taking these simple steps, you can keep your jewellery looking fresh, shiny and new!


Behind the scenes: How we make our Lost & Found Rings! August 21 2012

Since I've been making lots of rings lately, I thought it would be cool to share the process with you! Here is a behind-the-scenes, step-by-step description of what goes into making our Lost and Found Rings. Pretty please, don't try this at home unless you are a trained jeweler. :)

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First I pick out the stone I want to use for my ring and I select what type of bezel wire I want to use. In this case, I chose a beautiful large, round carnelian, and I decided to set it in a simple, straight bezel setting (we also have scalloped or serrated bezel wire).  I get my materials ready (bezel wire, stone, ring band and silver sheet), then I get started by measuring the length of bezel wire I will need to go around the stone.

  

 

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I cut the length I need, file the ends so that they match up perfectly, bend the whole piece into kind of a 'D' shape, then solder the ends together. After soldering, the silver is slightly oxidized, so I have to put it in an acid called 'pickle' that makes it nice and shiny again. I then press the 'D' shape around the stone, making sure it fits perfectly (no jiggling, or else the stone can loosen itself and eventually fall out!).

  

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Next, I trace the size of silver sheet that I need and cut it out using a jeweller's saw. This part doesn't have to be perfectly even, but there needs to be extra space just in case the pieces shift while soldering. I then solder the bezel onto the sheet (the third photo is what the silver looks like after soldering).

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Pickle again to clean the piece, then file the edges of the sheet so that they are flush with the bezel. I then sand the entire thing with my emery sticks starting with 220 emery, then 320, then 400 and then 600 (as you can see, this the part of the process that takes the most time!)

  

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I then put the setting aside and get my ring band ready, first by sizing it, soldering it together, cleaning it up with rotary tools and emery paper, and then filing one side as flat as possible to make a clean soldering seam between the band and the bottom of the setting.

  

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Now, where it all comes together! Soldering the band onto the setting. Pickle again, emery again, then see if the stone fits...and it does!

  

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Now, the most rewarding part--Setting the stone! Using my pusher, I start to push the bezel tight around the stone. I push on one side, then the opposite side, making sure not to go in a rotating sequence around the stone (which can cause more material to end up at one side). I then push in between my first pushes, over and over again until the setting is somewhat smooth.

  

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I use this tool, called a burnisher, to smooth out the setting even more. I then use 600 emery paper to clean it up even more and then throw it in the tumbler to shine up that surface! The finish from the tumbler gives the silver a soft shine.

      

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I take it out of the tumbler and TA-DA! My ring is ready to wear (or list on Etsy!)

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