How To Repair Tarnished Costume Jewelry

Tarnished costume jewelry can be a major eyesore. Not only does it make the piece of jewelry look discolored and dull, but it can also damage the metal if the tarnish is left untreated. Fortunately, there are a number of methods to clean your tarnished costume jewelry and get it back to its original sparkle. This article will discuss how to repair tarnished costume jewelry in detail, so keep reading to learn more.

Method 1: Using Aluminum Foil

Line a small bowl with aluminum foil and then fill it with boiling water. Place the piece of tarnished costume jewelry into the bowl and add one teaspoon of baking soda. Allow the item to soak for 5 minutes before taking it out of the water and wiping away any remaining tarnish residue with a soft cloth or paper towel. This method is best for items that have light to moderate tarnishing.

Method 2: Using Salt Water

Fill a small bowl with warm water, add one tablespoon of salt, and stir until dissolved. Put your tarnished costume jewelry into the solution, making sure that all parts are touched by the saltwater. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before removing it from the solution and buffing it dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. This remedy works well for items that have heavy amounts of tarnishing but will not restore their original shine completely.

Method 3: Using White Vinegar

For very heavily tarnished pieces, use a mixture of white vinegar and boiling water in equal parts in a bowl large enough to hold your costume jewelry item. The pieces should be soaked in this combination for 5-10 minutes before being removed and dried carefully with a soft towel or paper towel.

Afterward, you may need to repeat this method several times depending on how much tarnish they had upon inspection initially. Note that this is an abrasive method which may damage softer metals over time so proceed carefully when using this remedy on delicate items.

Understanding the Causes of Tarnishing

There are many reasons why costume jewelry can become tarnished, oxidized, or discolored over time. Not cleaning the jewelry properly, often enough, or in the wrong manner can lead to a buildup of dirt and grime on the metal.

This can form an invisible barrier that prevents air from freely reaching the metal surface which accelerates oxidation and corrosion. Tarnishing is inevitable for all metals as they react to atmospheric elements like sulfur and chlorine; being exposed to these elements will cause certain metals to oxidize at a faster rate.

Repairing Tarnished Jewelry

One of the simplest ways to repair tarnished jewelry is to use a mild non-abrasive cleaner along with a soft cloth such as an old t-shirt or microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth into the cleaner, then rub it in circular motions over the jewelry until all of the tarnish has been removed.

Ensure that all dirt and grime has been removed from any crevices or hard-to-reach areas before proceeding with this process. The next step would be polishing the piece with a soft polishing cloth, paying attention to its edges and crevices for extra shine.

Another effective method for repairing tarnished jewelry is by soaking it in olive oil. The oil helps remove any discoloration and oxidation from harder surfaces slowly but effectively while providing much needed lubrication that will help prevent scratches while restoring its natural shine. It may take awhile before you see results with this method so remember patience is key here.

Preventing Future Damage

It is best practice to store your costume jewelry in airtight containers such as zip-lock bags when not being worn in order to keep them away from moisture and natural elements which could cause them damage over time. Try not to expose your pieces to prolonged sunlight or other damaging environmental conditions suchlikeprolonged exposure during hot showers because this will also cause oxidation (tarnishing).

Additionally, it’s important not to submerge costume jewelry in any liquid application unless stated on product care instructions since this could alter the brightness of some gems depending on type/kind used for example crystal glass stones may turn yellowish if submerged too long.

Finally make sure wipe down your jewelry once you are finished wearing them with a dry cloth allowing no residue left behind as stored wet co m s tume pieces may encourage foreign particles buildup leading eventual corrosion when left unattended too long.

Choosing the Right Repair Tools

Tarnished costume jewelry can easily be fixed with the right tools. It is important to choose cleaning items that specifically designed for the purpose of cleaning costume jewelry in order to restore it back to its original luster and shine.

A mild, non-abrasive cleanser is ideal for cleaning costume jewelry, since traditional jewelry cleaning agents are too harsh and could damage delicate stones and metals. Cheaper costume jewelry may need more care in terms of choosing a cleaning agent than higher quality pieces made from real silver or gold, as these materials are a bit more durable.

Preparation Before Cleaning

Prior to starting any repair or cleaning process, it’s important to properly assess what kind of material your jewelry is made from and how much care or preparation you will need to take before beginning the repair process. If there are any gemstones that could potentially be damaged by a harsh chemical or acidic solution for instance, then use only mild cleansers such as soapy water instead.

Taking this step ensures that you do not accidentally cause any further damage when attempting to repair tarnished costume jewelry.


Using special cloths designed specifically for polishing and buffing costume metals is essential in sealing out moisture that could eventually cause further tarnish. If tarnish is particularly stubborn and thick, then soaking the item underwater with some mild soap can help dissolve hard deposits along with softening them enough to gently scrub off with a cloth soaked in warm water.

Avoid brushing with regular toothbrush bristles since they might be too rough on some softer gems like turquoise or lapis lazuli which are found commonly in most costume jewelries today. After cleaning the piece it should then be dried using a soft cotton cloth before further anti-tarnish treatments can occur if necessary.

Preparing the Jewelry for Repair

Repairing tarnished costume jewelry is a fun and creative process that can yield great results with care and effort. When preparing your costume jewelry for repair, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure the lasting beauty of your antique pieces. First, make sure you have the right tools before beginning the process.

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Gather cotton swabs, soft cloths, degreasing agent, jeweler’s grade polishing compound, and an old toothbrush. It’s also important to wear protective gloves when handling chemicals or any sharp objects during the repair process to protect your hands from cuts or burns.

Remove Tarnish

Once everything is ready, start by removing excess dirt and grime from the surface of the jewelry using a slow circular motion with a soft microfiber cloth. To further clean your jewelry piece and remove all traces of tarnish, apply a solvent-based degreasing solution using cotton swabs – carefully avoiding stones as much as possible so you don’t cause any damage.

Give it five minutes for the solution to work, then rinse off any leftover residue with lukewarm water and dry off with a soft cloth before beginning the polishing phase.


Take out your jeweler’s grade polishing compound and apply it sparingly onto each area of your costume jewelry with an old toothbrush. Use circular motions to gently rub on the polish until you achieve a uniform gloss finish across the entire piece of jewelry.

Be sure to pay extra attention to small corners and crevices where dirt tends to accumulate more will help avoid leaving behind salt-like residues after rinsing that can cause corrosion in delicate metals such as gold plated costume jewelry over time. Allow sufficient time for the mixture to do its work and rinse off with cold water once done for perfect results every time.

Removing the Tarnish

When cleaning tarnished costume jewelry, you should always be gentle and patient. Before applying any cleaning solutions to your jewelry, it is important to ensure that the surface of the piece is covered in a soft cloth or material such as felt. This will prevent any damage from occurring when you are scrubbing the jeweled parts. There are various methods available to remove tarnish from jewelry, but be careful not to damage the original look of the piece.

One solution for basic tarnishing is toothpaste. Simply apply a mild toothpaste to the jewelry item with a clean cloth and scrub gently in circular motions until the tarnish begins to disappear. Rinse with cold water and buff dry with a clean cloth.

Polishing Costume Jewelery

Once all of the tarnish has been removed from your costume jewellery piece, it’s time to get ready to polish it up. For best results, use microfiber or chamois polishing cloth. These materials are designed specifically for delicate pieces like this and won’t scratch your finish or affect its appearance any further.

After setting up your polishing materials, start by rubbing down each facet of your jewellery with long strokes using gentle pressure. For best protection against dirt and oil build-up that may accumulate over time, you can use at least two coats of protective wax or spray-on agent over the finish after polishing has been completed.

Storing Costume Jewellery

After sprucing up your costume jewellery, taking proper care of it will keep it looking beautiful for much longer. It’s important that you store your pieces properly in an area away from extreme temperatures and moisture; ideally inside an airtight plastic container out of direct sunlight so that tarnish does not form again quickly on these items.

Be sure not to store multiple pieces together as they can cause scratches on one another if stored loosely – keeping woven bags separate from one another within these special containers tends to work great for jewellery storage. Taking proper care and handling instructions for metals used in costume jewellery can also help extend their life between repairs or cleansings, so take care and enjoy wearing one day after another without having worries about how wonderful your gems still are.

Buffing and Polishing

Costume jewelry can be the perfect accessory to any outfit. Over time, the pieces tend to tarnish due to age or contact with oils or perfumes. Tarnished costume jewelry not only takes away from its aesthetic appeal, but it can affect the metal and reduce its lifespan. Fortunately, repairing tarnished costume jewelry is a surprisingly easy process.

One of the best ways to repair tarnished costume jewelry is by buffing and polishing it. Buffing pads are widely available in craft stores and come in a variety of grits that are designed specifically for different types of surfaces. Start off with a medium grit pad to remove surface dirt, imperfections, and some of the tarnish.

If more tarnish remains, switch to a high-grit pad for more powerful cleaning capabilities. After wiping down your piece with one pad, finish off with a finer-grit pad for added shine and smoothness.

You’ll also want to invest in a high quality metal polish specifically formulated for costume jewelry that contains agents for restoring its luster over time; these typically come in paste or liquid form and should not contain any acidic compounds as those could damage costume jewelry’s fragile surface. Apply metal polish directly onto your piece while wearing protective gloves; work it in gently with an old cloth or applicator brush until you’ve covered all areas extensively.

Depending on your level of desired shine/polish, allow several minutes before continuing onto further steps such as rubbing excess polish off with another cloth or rinsing under warm water if necessary.

To restore an extra bit of shine after polishing silver or gold-plated metals, use dryer sheets. Simply rub dryer sheet over your clean piece (the soft side of the sheet usually works better) until your desired luster has been achieved – this helps pick up where metal polishes may have left off without adding much extra residue on top from chemicals.

Additionally, dip precious gemstones into a diluted solution of mild dish soap and warm water for just a few seconds before patting them dry with paper towels; this will help remove dust build up which would otherwise diminish their sparkle if done regularly over time.

Reassembling the Jewelry

For those looking to repair tarnished costume jewelry, reassembling the jewelry is a required step. This process typically starts by gathering all of the loose stones or gems that have come off the piece; these should generally be cleaned using an ultrasonic solution while they are still on their settings in order to make sure that dirt and any grime is removed before the jewelry parts are reassembled.

After an ultrasonic solution has been used, the piece can then be reattached with tweezers or hands depending on how intricate the piece is.

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Sealing with Glue

Once all of the pieces have been put back together, it’s important to also use a strong adhesive such as glue in order to seal any gaps between any of the stones or gems. This prevents them from coming out again after being re-established in their proper place. There are many glues that work great for this purpose, but whatever adhesive chosen should be one specifically formulated for use with costume jewelry.

Polishing & Cleaning

Finally, it’s important to make sure that any spots of tarnish remain removed during this entire process; something like a silver polishing cloth can be used if necessary and will help keep the shining appearance of your costume jewelry intact.

Additionally, after every procedure is done and each component is secured properly together again like they were before tarnishing, it is crucial to gently wipe down larger parts of the jewel (like chains) with some warm water and laundry detergent – then thoroughly towel dry before wearing for maximum beauty.

Sealing and Protecting the Jewelry

One of the most important steps in repairing tarnished costume jewelry is to protect the metal surface from further damage. There are several ways to do this, and it’s important to choose the right approach for the type of jewelry being treated. For instance, many people opt for a spray sealant or wax-based product to coat the item and give it a lasting protection against dust, moisture and other elements that can cause corrosion over time.

Alternatively, some people like to use clear nail polish on certain items as an added layer of protection before storing them away. The benefits of both approaches include protecting the metal surface from further oxidization and buffing out any existing tarnish.

Cleaning and Polishing

After applying a protective sealant or coat of nail polish, it’s time to clean and polish the item in order to really restore its original shine. A simple solution made up of baking soda and warm water is usually enough for this step. Simply make a paste using these two components and then spread evenly over the jewelry with a soft cloth.

Once done, gently rub around all surfaces to remove excess dirt and tarnish without damaging any finishes or stones. This should create a nice sheen on the metal surface that will last for some time if properly maintained; although regular cleaning may be necessary depending on how often it is worn or used.

Preventive Maintenance

Finally, preventive maintenance is essential in order to help keep your costume jewelry free from tarnish over extended periods of time. Whenever possible, store pieces away from direct sunlight or other sources of heat which can accelerate oxidization; ideally keeping items in airtight containers filled with silica gel or similar desiccants will help draw any residual moisture away before causing damage.

Additionally, frequently inspected pieces should also be cleaned with plain soap and a little bit water whenever they start looking dull; preferably using an old toothbrush as this should work between each crevice without causing too much friction which could lead to scratches forming over time if done too vigorously.

Of course, if these methods fail then it might be necessary get professional help for thorough repairs but following through with such basic procedures should hold off such needs for quite some time.

Final Touches

After polishing your tarnished pieces of costume jewelry, the final step is to give them the finishing touches. One way to do this is by waxing. Choose a wax that’s specifically meant for metal and jewelry items, as those will be gentler and won’t damage the metal. Coat the jewelry in an even layer and buff with a cotton cloth.

This will give it an extra shine, as well as protect it from further damage in the future. Additionally, you can also add some sort of backing or reinforment to make sure that any delicate parts don’t easily break or bend. A few hand sewn stitches can hold stones or beads securely in place, so if these components become loose, tighte.


Having the right pieces of costume jewelry can instantly make any outfit stand out. Although these pieces provide a great way to strut your style, they can easily tarnish over time due to elements such as humidity and air exposure. However, it is important to remember that this doesn’t mean that all hope for the piece is gone, as it can be repaired.

It is important for those who have costume jewelry to practice proper maintenance in order to prolong its life and shine. One technique someone could use when trying to maintain their costume jewelry is simply wiping down the piece often after wear or between storage periods and cleaning it thoroughly with warm water, mild soap, and a soft cloth.

This will help remove any dirt particles from the metal and ensure that no more damage occurs. If a harsher chemical needs to be used on certain metals such as copper or silver, avoiding substances like ammonia and vinegar would be beneficial.

In addition to wiping and cleaning the metal itself, another aspect of maintenance lies in where the metal rests when being stored away. Keeping each piece in an individual container or fabric pouch will protect against scratches while also avoiding tangling multiple items together which could lead to breaks or tears in metal or threads along the item itself; this includes keeping the pieces away from other jewellery that may contain harsh chemicals or scratch surfaces.

Finally, when not wearing the item avoid spraying perfumes directly onto them as they are much more vulnerable than even precious stone based items due to their plating layers or enamel coatings.

These techniques don’t take long yet will surely give someone peace of mind knowing that just a bit of extra effort has helped extend both the look and life of their beloved items of costume jewelry.