How to Clean Silver with Turquoise and Coral


Caprice asked: If I use the salt and water method to clean my silver, will it hurt any stones in the silver, specifically turquoise or coral? I have large pieces of silver with a lot of coral and turquoise. What is the best method to clean these pieces?

Silver is extremely soft, even in the form of sterling silver, and is easily damaged by many “home remedy” cleaning solutions. Anything abrasive, including baking soda or a standard toothbrush, may cause pitting. Once these pits form, they provide plenty of opportunity for moisture to linger, causing further damage. You should also avoid submerging silver with coral or turquoise pieces in water or silver cleaning solutions due to the potential for damage to the stones. How, then, can you clean these delicate items? It’s actually quite easy, just follow these steps.

You Will Need:

  • Dishwashing liquid such as Dawn
  • Water
  • Cotton swab
  • Damp cloth
  • Non-abrasive jewelry polishing cloth

Steps to Clean the Silver:

  1. Add a small amount of dish soap to water to create a mild solution.
  2. Dip a cotton swab in the solution, you’ll want it to be moist, but not dripping.
  3. Wipe the silver with the moist cotton swab. Remoisten and/or use a new swab as needed.
  4. Pay special attention to tiny crevices and bends in the jewelry where dirt and perspiration can create build up.
  5. Wipe clean with a soft cloth moistened with clean water.
  6. Allow the piece to air dry completely.
  7. If needed, restore shine with a non-abrasive jewelry polishing cloth.
  8. Repeat these cleanings frequently to avoid buildup of tarnish and keep the silver looking its best.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • A non-toxic jewelry polishing cloth may safely be used on all types of silver.
  • Use a clean section of polishing cloth and turn it frequently to avoid scratching the silver.
  • Polish in an up and down or side to side motion, never circular. Periodically change the direction of your polish to avoid leaving marks on the surface.
  • If the silver does not come clean, take it to a professional. They should have the expertise to clean your piece of silver without damaging the gemstones.


  1. The ring I am getting is sterling silver and a square front with a sterling masonic emblem- there are many small flakes/chunks behind, and all around the little masonic emblem. How do I clean the very small emblem without damaging the turquois? Should I just leave the ring as it is?
    What cleaning cloth do you recommend- also the ring is vintage and looks dull brassish in color- I guess it hasn’t been cleaned in a while- doesn’t look bad though.
    I want to take care of it properly- what would you do?

  2. Melanie says:

    A jeweler can probably clean it; many professional stores offer cleaning services. If you want to try cleaning it yourself, it could help if you used a magnifying mirror. Also, you could use one of the tapered miniature cotton swabs instead of a regular size one.

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