This morning I was speaking with a woman who has asked me to design a 1st Communion rosary for her granddaughter. A separate question she had for me was with regards to advice on how to clean a rosary where the centerpiece and crucifix were black with tarnish. The rosary she described is kept on the hands of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Typically if you're using a rosary regularly tarnish will be minimal but in the case of how this rosary is being displayed it's understandable that it has tarnished so badly. So here is my guide for cleaning a silver or silverplated rosary.
CLEANING THE SILVER COMPONENTS OF YOUR ROSARY
1. To start, you want to purchase a good silver cleaning product. I highly recommend Wright's Silver Cream. It's a grayish paste that comes with a large sponge. It can be found in King Sooper's (a Colorado-based grocery store) and likely any large supermarket. It's typically found in the aisle with the kitchen and oven cleaning products.
2. Stay away from products that market themselves as simple as dipping your silver in a fluid and tarnish goes away. For rosary centerpieces and crucifixes they don't do a very good job of removing tarnish. More importantly, the chemical can be damaging to your rosary beads should you get some of it on the bead. Stick with silver cleaning products that have a cream or paste consistency.
3. I use Q-tips to clean the silver components because it's difficult to get into the detailed engravings of these pieces. Keep in mind it's going to take a bit of elbow grease to get the tarnish off. On a single centerpiece, I can easily use 10 Q-tips to get the tarnish off. If it's pretty tarnished it can take some time to clean it up! See pictures below of a centerpiece that was really tough to clean.
4. Once you've got your piece shined up nicely, rinse it off in warm water. You can use soapy water if necessary and that shouldn't harm your beads. Dry it off with a soft cloth or towel and you're good to go!
5. If your pins are tarnished, have a bronze appearance, or are rusted it's likely time to have it repinned. Cleaning a pin, the piece that goes through the bead, is very difficult and could lead to damaging your beads. So find someone to repin your rosary if the pins are in really poor condition.
If you have any questions about cleaning your rosary please feel free to ask me at email@example.com.