Ethnic Jewels

An appreciation of ethnic jewellery and adornment

Help! How to clean jewellery from Afghanistan, Morocco,Ethiopia etc like many mixed metal pieces members show here?

I've rediscovered my stash bought mostly in the '90s including large amulet cases with dangles, metal drops, chains , lapis slabs, glass and coral bits set in shallow mounts with what looks like bitumen, some enamel etc. and if I ever want to show them off or do business with them then they must look glowing not drab, whether the metals themselves are silver, tin, nickel, brass, copper, iron, gilded, or a mix..

Vinegar? Salt? Lemon juice? silver dip? detergent? woolwash? ultrasonic? elbowgrease?

All suggestions welcome!


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Comment by SARAH CORBETT on November 6, 2010 at 8:16
Do you have any before and after pics?
S x
Comment by Stefany Tomalin on November 6, 2010 at 0:49
well... thank you Sarah for several helpful leads.

i've tried firstly to find a way to restore the shine to some of the mixtures of hundreds of small and very small smoothish loose hand-wrought ethnic metal beads from East Africa that appear to belong in the pile that arent golden, so "grey metal".
I dug out my old pebble tumbler and after pulling out the iron beads with a magnet, put the remaining ones in with some grit and water, some in another barrel with malt vinegar, some in another barrel with lemon juice and some salt. All for a couple of hours.
The lemon juice worked better than the others. In the vinegar lot there must have been some copper beads because some of the other beads acquired a slight pink coppery shine. I suspect some have a proportion of nickel in their composition.
When the liquid gets poured away its incredibly filthy!
Also the beads mustnt be left wet or the oxidisation starts up again and they get dull before they dry.
I spread them out on a cloth on a baking dish that I had heated in the oven.

Warning- some of the very small beads tend to get jammed inside the larger hollow ones.

Will try more lemon juice etc with the toothbrush on a few more complex decorated items that mustnt be tumbled.
When I had a shop we could rely on enthusiastic customers handling the merchandise to keep some of the things shiny...

Anyone else want to share cleaning experiences?

Comment by SARAH CORBETT on November 1, 2010 at 13:17
found this today!
thought you may like it!
S x
Comment by SARAH CORBETT on October 26, 2010 at 7:53
someone reccommended toothpaste for really grubby stuff....I never tried, but it may work I guess!
S x
Comment by Stefany Tomalin on October 18, 2010 at 21:33
Unless it was an electric toothbrush...
Comment by Stefany Tomalin on October 18, 2010 at 21:31
I fear that would take me centuries...
Comment by SARAH CORBETT on October 18, 2010 at 18:24
Gently with a soft toothbrush and a mild dertergent would be my best advice!



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