To remove tarnish from costume jewelry, start by picking off as much as you can using a toothpick or toothbrush, then try removing anything left using metal polish or vinegar. While abrasive chemicals in metal polish and vinegar can remove tarnish and verdigris, they can also sometimes remove any gold plating.
- Pick off tarnish and verdigris
Scrape verdigris and tarnish off the metal with a wooden toothpick. This method works well when the jewelry has only small spots of tarnish. Follow up by brushing off the tarnish with a dry toothbrush.
- Wipe the jewelry with metal polish
Be careful with jewels that are glued into place rather than set. Squeeze a small dab of metal polish onto a clean, dry cloth, and gently rub the jewelry for 30 seconds. Repeat until you have removed as much tarnish or verdigris as possible. Clean the jewelry with another soft, dry cloth.
- Soak the jewelry in vinegar
If more tarnish remains on the jewelry, soak it in white vinegar for about 20 minutes. Don't try this with pearls, fake pearls or rhinestones, because the vinegar can damage the stones. After soaking, pull the jewelry out of the vinegar, and scrub it gently with a toothbrush, then dry it with a soft cloth.
- Dry the jewelry
Place the jewelry upside down on a clean towel so that the moisture runs away from the setting.