How to clean a very very dirty NA silver ring without damaging the turquoise stone

I recently found a very pretty but extremely dirty (caked on mud and grit that’s actually adhered to the metal - it looks like it was buried underground for a few centuries) NA silver ring at a yard sale with a beautiful (I believe natural, as it has pitting and rough matrix inclusions) turquoise stone. I brought it home and tried to clean it with a toothbrush and plain tap water, which usually works with mild dirt, but even after scrubbing the grit is too caked on to budge. Is there any way to clean it without harming the turquoise? If it were plain silver, I’d leave it in a dish of jewelry cleaning solution overnight and hope the grit broke down and came off, but obviously I can’t do that in this case. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

Thanks again and best wishes,


We clean our worst tarnished silver with a paste made of baking soda and water. Let it set for an hour or so and try to brush most of the grime off, then repeat as necessary. We never put the paste directly on any stone or gem, but it does flow over onto it without any damaging effect. It’s hard to imagine it would hurt. Might want to test a spot, though.

Thanks, Jim, that sounds like a good idea. The caking actually looks like mineral deposits, much like the kind you see on some water pipes after years (or decades) of use. I can’t imagine how a silver ring got this way, as I’ve never seen mineral deposits on silver, (I tested it to be sure and it passed with flying colors); grime and tarnish, yes, but never anything like this.

Will give this a try and let you know how it goes. :slight_smile:

Best wishes,

Sounds rough, hope you get it shining again, Good Luck!

Jim, what does the baking soda do to the intentionally oxidized parts like the black areas of Hopi overlay?

Good question. The soda reacts to the minerals on the silver (and copper) yet leaves the silver intact. On the oxidized areas I would have to test a small spot (say on the back if possible) because the soda may remove oxidation if left on or brushed across the same as removing minerals from the silver. I don’t recall having cleaned an oxidized piece. Sorry not more help.