How To Professionally Clean Your Silver Jewelry

jewelry tumblerI love my charm jewelry, but I hate how quickly they get tarnished especially when I’m not careful about storing them properly.  I’ve often admired how shiny my bracelets are after a cleaning in the Pandora store jewelry tumbler and wished I could get that sort of cleaning at home.  When I discovered the type of products that were used, I immediately purchased them and I’m so excited to share my find.  Pandora uses a jewelry tumbler, one that can be purchased online on Amazon, combined with a jeweler’s mix of steel shot and the secret ingredient of Super Sunsheen Burnishing Compound by Rio Grande.  Please follow the directions in the video to avoid harming your jewelry.

*Caveat: never put pearls, mother of pearl, pavé set, wood, leather, amber, cameos, rhodium plated, gold plated, fabric cords, faceted and engraved glass beads, or the Essence Collection in the jewelry tumbler.

Disclaimer: Charms Addict is not responsible for misuse of the product, any damage to jewelry, and makes no guarantees or warranties, either express or implied, as to these products.

  • Kim A

    Really great video, thank you! Can beads that have the black oxidation go in the tumbler i.e. Stardom clip? Or do you lose a lot of the blackness?

    • Leann

      Thanks, Kim. No, those clips cannot because they’re rhodium plated. Regular silver charms with oxidation details are fine though.

      • Bailey

        We also do not put the Oxidized bracelet in the tumbler either; for the same reason

      • Leann

        Yup, that’s rhodium plated :).

  • Daphne

    Leann, love the video , my store told me NOT to put stones or glass in the tumbler though. Do you have direct information to the contrary? Not trying to say anything about your skills, you are OBVIOUSLY very knowledgeable about the charms. I have 100’s of charms and complete bracelets and it is not possible to remove , separate, clean, reassemble , etc,,,, all of my bracelets to clean them. THIS would be perfect , IF it doesn’t damage my stones. PLEASSE let me know. Waiting for my new CA charm to arrive !!!! EXCITEDDDD !!!

    • Leann

      Thanks, Daphne. My store has always put in glass and stone charms too, but if you’re not comfortable with that, then you should take them off.

      • Daphne

        No worries then !!! THANK YOU!!!!

    • Aysha

      In the store I work at, we put in muranos and charms with stones (with the exception of pearls and pave set charms, eg: pave lights and the pave heart/star dangles) and they’ve always been fine. Most likely your store just does not want to take any chances of being liable.

      • Daphne

        THANK YOU !!!! 😉

      • Leann

        Thanks, Aysha! That’s good to know. My store has always put in glass and stones too :).

  • Tracy

    I’m intrigued. And now I know what that little piece of needle that got stuck in one of my charms after a cleaning at Jareds is… 🙂 I’m wondering about stones too, I have a lot of the cabochon jewelry, rings, bracelets and charms and haven’t ever had them tumbled clean… but if troll glass does fine, maybe they would be okay too?
    And I’m surprised at the amount of time it takes, I don’t think they’ve ever tumbled my bracelet for more than 10 minutes at the store.
    My other question is if I didn’t want to make the full commitment and buy the tumbler and steel shot, could I use the Rio Grande compound mixed with water as a cleaning solution with my normal at home cleaning method (water, mild dishsoap, in a big baggy and shake around really hard…:) ) ?

    • Leann

      I’ve always had my bracelets cleaned at the store with no problems, I haven’t used this tumbler specifically with my cabochons yet, but I’ll try it. The time depends on how dirty the jewelry is, my bracelets were pretty tarnished so I kept them in extra.

      I have no idea if you can use the burnishing compound separately. I think it’s a combination of the solution with the friction of the shot and the motion of the tumbler that gets it clean. You can always use mild soap and water to clean your jewelry.

      • Tracy

        That makes sense, Leann, thanks for all the great info and video!
        I might have to splurge, it would be really nice to have sparkly clean, fresh out of the store jewelry without having to go to the store

      • Leann

        You bet! I’m glad it’s helpful :).

  • Janet Lee

    Hi Leann, Great video! I just ordered the Lortone Tumbler and 1 lb of shot mix for cleaning all my Pandora jewellery–can’t wait to receive it and use it! saves me time in bringing to the Pandora store since I can clean myself.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Leann

      You’re welcome! Let me know what you think of it :).

  • Marisela

    Thanks Leann for this excellent video! I guess everyone else pretty much asked what I had in mind. Just got one more question: Does it work with delicate pieces such as compose earrings? I would guess not.

    • Leann

      I don’t see why not? I put my rings in there. Just no pearls and other porous materials.

      • Marisela

        Thank you for your reply! I do have some posts that have little pearls. So those would be out of the picture. But the rest would be safe. 🙂

      • Aysha

        In the store I work at, we put rings/earrings in a mesh teaball and then put them it. That way if the band is smooth, it wont get little marks in it.

      • Marisela

        Thanks Aysha!

      • Leann

        That makes total sense! Thanks for the tip, Aysha :).

  • Farah

    Why do you have to be careful with pave charms? 🙁 Thanks for this info, I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time!

    • Leann

      Because the pave setting is basically tension hold on the stones, there’s a chance they may come loose from the vibrations and tumbling motion of the cleaner. It’s what Pandora recommends.

  • TammySue

    Great video, Leann! Is it safe to put two-tone charms in the tumbler?

    • Leann

      Thanks Tammy Sue. Of course, two-tone are fine. 🙂

  • Bailey

    In store we also dilute the solution with water. Be sure to follow the instructions. This is why Pandora doesn’t recommend the use of silver polish (dipping it in) as this takes all of the oxidization off of the charm that is put there to enhance the detail.

    • Leann

      Good point! Thanks Bailey :).

  • Pandoraholic

    Leann, Never heard of a tumbler before – question, does the shot stuff cause any type of scratches on the silver? I normally use my Dremel and a polishing cloth because I hate scratches. This would be so much faster and I would love it as long as it does not scratch the silver. I noticed none of your items had Gold, can you not put in anything with gold? Thanks for sharing.

    • Aysha

      At my store, we don’t put the bangles the cleaner as we don’t want them to get scratched. For anything like rings or earrings, we put them into a mesh tea ball, and then put them in. That way the water still moves through, but they’re not actually coming into contact with the shot.

      • Janet Lee

        Hi Aysha, that makes total sense to me – the mesh prevents direct contact. I just bought the tumbler and 1 lb shots and looking at it, I am worried that it would scratch the Pandora charms. I went to my Pandora store and asked them and they said they use the same system with a special solution. I haven’t purchased the solution yet. What does your store use or what do you recommend?

      • Aysha

        Hi Janet, we use “RIO GRANDE Super Sunsheen Burnishing Compound” and we use 3OZ per 16 cups of water (we make it in a big jug and store it until we need more). Just cover the shot until the water is maybe a centimeter or so over the shot, you really don’t need much at all. With just personal use, you wouldn’t need to change the solution out that often. The stuff works miracles, it’s crazy how good of a job it does. For a bracelet that isn’t too dirty, we normally leave it in for about 10 minutes, but you can leave it in for hours as well if it’s really bad. Then we rinse the bracelets off with water, dry them, and use a polishing cloth.

    • Leann

      It doesn’t scratch the silver, it’s used to rub off the tarnish. You can put gold in it, I just didn’t use a bracelet with gold in this demonstration.

  • Tanya

    I would be so nervous doing it myself and especially after I had a horrible experience last time I got my collection cleaned. First they almost lost a full bracelet and they made me show them a picture to prove it was mine. Thank goodness I had one on my phone! Then I looked at all my bracelets and they looked banged up and a few of them really looked quite crappy. When I got home I polished them myself and they looked way better. I think I will stick to the polishing cloths from now on.

    • Leann

      Makes sense :).

      • Tanya

        Here in Montreal the polish cloths cost 5$ ea. but I think its worth it to avoid the extra wear and tear that tumbling causes. I know it is very gentle tumbling but all those little pieces banging on your bracelet can not be good. I think that is why mine looked so crappy, the beads just aren’t smooth any more.

  • Janet Lee

    just ordered the tumbler and stainless steel shots but am worried that it will ding and damage my pandora charms when I put in the tumbler. Can you ensure that this won’t happen? I have seen the video and was impressed but now that I have everything I am concerned as I don’t want to damage my pandora jeweller.

    • Leann

      As I said in the disclaimer, I can’t guarantee these products on your jewelry. It depends on how you use it, but this is what Pandora stores use to tumble the bracelets. If you’re not comfortable with doing it yourself, I would recommend returning it.

  • Janet Lee

    I checked with the Pandora store here in Toronto and they informed me that they use the same method: tumbler and shots with a special solution to clean the Pandora jewellery so this must be safe – although they could not guarantee since they don’t know the machine, etc. but it is the same method. I did a test run (with dish detergent) putting in a sterling silver ring and the Pandora bracelet for 15 minutes to see what happens and the bracelet was cleaner and shinier however I noticed the ring had some dents from the stainless steel shots. Should I put in the Pandora charms in a tea mesh tea bag to avoid scratches or dents? Your thoughts would be very helpful!

    • Pandoraholic

      I’m going to use the mesh bag for the charms when I do them individually (not on a bracelet), mainly because I found that the shot gets inside the charm and can get stuck (easily removed with soapy water so far, but you never know if he shot will get in a position that will really jam it up.) Thanks to your post I will use it either way because I was worried about dings and scratches. Funny thing is I read on one site that jewelers use this method to polish so I wonder what/how they use it that polishes the silver rather than scratches it. Hmmmmmm, gonna have to dig on the net some more before I kick into high gear with this. LOL. Patty

    • Leann

      I’ve not had any problems with the charms. I think when it’s smooth silver, like Aysha said, you should put those in the tea ball.

  • Pandoraholic

    I should have mine in a couple of days, since I have several thousand beads and a dozen bracelets this will make cleaning so much easier. I’ve looked up this method on the net and it appears that there are a lot of jewelers who use this method as well even for polishing! It’s unreal to this this will Polish and not scratch, can’t wait to play with it! Of course I will start with the sterling silver first to get a good feel for it ……… baby steps for me! LOL Patty

    • Leann

      Wow, this will definitely save you a lot of work! I hope you like it :).

  • mlang1020

    I got mine yesterday, cleaned the shot last night and when I got home from work, used it for the first time. Don’t know if I missed it in your video but next time, I will leave the charms on the bracelet. Some of the shot got stuck inside the charms. I was starting to panic but carefully got one of my rods from my jewelry box and very carefully, got them out. Was so happy that they still screw on my bracelet with no problem. I saw you did put your whole loaded bracelet in but it never dawned on me why. I am very happy with how great it cleaned everything. The bracelets look brand new. I would like to know if the birthstone flowers can be put in without damaging them. Would appreciate anyone who could answer this question.

    • Pandoraholic

      OMG – This happened to me yesterday. Even though I do not have my tumbler I received my shot, cleaned it and thought I would hand tumble one of my beads just for fun. When the shot got stuck inside the bead I panicked and could not get it out even with a rod. So I placed it, by itself, in a plastic cup (with a lid) and lots of liquid dish (Dawn) soap – then shook it. The soapy water made the shot come right out. Patty

      • mlang1020

        I tried that too. A few did dislodge but others didn’t. The rod worked on some but thank goodness also had a little screwdriver that you use on glasses and was able to get the others out. Cleaned 2 other full bracelets in tact, and they came out all sparkly and clean. Love this machine.

    • Leann

      Yikes, I’m glad you figured that out, lol. I would not recommend putting the birthday blooms in it because they’ve got natural stones which are soft. You should take them off the bracelet.

      • mlang1020

        Well, I did put the blooms in with half the shot and liquid for 10 mins max. They came out sparkling clean and in one piece. Thanks you so much for bringing this tumbler to my attention, love it.

      • Leann

        Great! I’m glad it worked well for you :).

  • Mew Maria

    Leann, do you think there’s any benefit in using the Super Sunsheen Burnishing Compound for the soak-and-scrub [with a soft-bristle toothbrush] method of cleaning?

    • Leann

      Hmm, I guess you could? Be sure to dilute it with water. They say mild dish soap works too. 🙂

  • http://www.facebook.com/thepurplecharm2 Sharene

    I read through this and didn’t see an answer for my problem. If I missed it, sorry. I “inherited” some GLASS Trollbeads. They were said to be old. Four of them have a “blackish” tint to them. I’m sure they weren’t that way originally. I took a picture and they look pretty good in the pic except he white one, you can really see the blackish on it. I don’t care for it. It’s almost like it’s embedded into the glass? Is there a way to get rid of this? Would a machine take it out? I used dish soap-water solution and a very soft brush, I even soaked them a bit, came out unchanged. Any advice from Leann or anyone else? Has anyone had this happen to them? Were they just mistreated? Thanks for any help.

  • jackie

    Hello Leann I was just wondering the video you recommend for using the tumbler is no longer available is there another video you would recommend to teach us how to use a tumbler