HELP: Acid Earring Problem

Hi OzBargainers,

I need your help.

About 5 years back my boyfriend bought me a pair of earrings from Thomas Sabo for Christmas. I loved these earrings and wore them everyday. Because I loved them so much I paid a lot of attention to them. One day I noticed one earring was more cloudy than the other so I used a toothbrush to clean it. The next day I noticed it still wasn't equal in sparkle so I tried cleaning it with a toothbrush again. Repeat for a few weeks.

The back of the earrings is something that looks sort of like a cage so I though maybe that was stopping my toothbrush bristles from scrubbing the right spot. Then I had an ingenious (downright stupid) idea: I could use the same salicylic acid solution that I use for cleaning my retainers (others use it for cleaning dentures) to help me clean those hard to reach spots on my earring.

So I put my earring in acid and after 10 minutes I pulled it out and the metal looked black (not silver) and was soft so the hook part didn't hold it's shape. I've sort of (not really) bent it back into shape and after years of avoiding looking at it the black metal has now turned a splotchy dull grey.

I've had this problem for a long time but still don't know how to fix it. I think my stupidity and shame made me put fixing it off. Hoping the collective mind has some ideas to help me out.

Here are some pictures of my beloved earrings:

TLDR; Put earring in salicylic acid hoping to clean it. Silver metal became black and malleable. Over time black metal became splotchy grey. How can I fix it?

Edit: Thanks for all your comments. Definitely feeling the Ozbargain love even if I haven't found a solution to my problem yet :)


  • +9 votes

    get the stones re-set by a jeweller

    • +5 votes

      Yes - this is THE ONLY solution.

      This metal will absolutely never recover - but if the stone is OK - then you will at least have something to wear.

      Ensure they use either sterling silver or a gold (9ct or upwards).

      In future, clean carefully with the correct jewellery cleaner or just detergent and warm water.

      Never use a toothbrush.


        OP could have washed the earrings in one of those small containers filled with water, that micro-vibrate and pass that vibration onto the earring. No clue how it's called and too lazy to check google. I hope OP knows what I mean.

    • +1 vote

      OP could get it reset/repaired overseas, if they are going there anyway. There are some countries where jewelry workers labour is much much cheaper, but they still are quite skilled.
      Note: I forget which countries are best for cheap jewellery labour. My sister in law bought ordered a very fancy ring from overseas, and due to difference is labour cost, she saved thousands.
      If OP wants a bargain jeweler, that might be the way to go.


    To the op, toothpaste is an alkalising solution (neutralises acid) with mild abrasive qualities. Its well known as a home cleaning agent for buffing metal

    The problem is we don't know what metal your earings are made out of. I would guess stainless steel, but given the fact they've gone 'soft', I don't know. Without knowing the metal, its just a guess as to what to use. Toothpaste is a pretty safe bet though. Its mild enough that we use it on teeth, but strong enough that it will counteract the effects of the acid

  • +1 vote

    Salicylic acid is corrosive. Due to different pH and composition of acids, corrosion can occur at different rates for different materials.

    In this case, the solder that connected the earing to the shaft was probably dissolved. You can probably get it resoldered. Alternatively, you can reset any jewels if it is a high value stone.

  • +1 vote

    I saw those at lovisa, dont they sell them?

    Edit: Did not see you had a different brand, but if you need new ones, have a look in Lovisa. Almost identical


      I bought a replacement lookalike pair before but it just doesn't do the original earrings justice and I can't bring myself to wear them when the original was clearly better. I'll have a look in Lovisa though, might be closer in appearance and cheaper than resetting them!

  • +21 votes

    Hi, I am a Scientist. Sorry about your earring, and unfortunately it can not be repaired by soaking in anything else. Acids dissolve metals. The reaction is irreversible. You earrings would have been made from a metal alloy (mix of different metals - the 925 stamp is used for silver jewellery which contains 7.5% other metals to make the jewellery stronger) and 10 mins is more than enough to dissolve different metals out of that alloy. Dipping the earrings in a basic solution will not replenish the metal. Hope you can find an identical pair soon. All the best :-)

    • -22 votes

      It's only surface damage it hasn't dissolved the whole earrings… Cleaning or soaking them with something alkali like a lemon would be the best way to renew and clean the damaged surface without risking further damage by using other acids.

      • +29 votes

        Your logic is akin to "oh dear I burnt my toast, the opposite of fire is water so I'll submerge it in water and my bread will be as good as new"

        Please stop

        • -13 votes

          Acids cause problems, they don't solve problems. And funny enough, the entire pharmaceutical industry is based upon the premise that the manufacture of drugs from acids will supposedly solve people's health problems!

          Unfortunately, it is not possible for chemists to create a true problem solving solution which is alkali because what is genuinely alkali can only occur naturally!

          Let's stop though, we wouldn't want the pharmaceutical industry going bust and someone's wife out of a job…

        • +10 votes

          @Warier: So Sodium hydroxide is a health drink, and Sugar soap is good for cocktails?

          You are the most ridiculous fool I have read this decade…

        • +5 votes

          Huh. I suspected you were a homeopathy "genius".

          I'd refute your claim with some facts but you don't even accept the law of chemical physics, I doubt we can be objective with statistics and data.

        • +1 vote

          @Warier: Are you an antivaxer?

        • +6 votes

          @Warier: Big Pharma, and Big Jewellery, never has a more powerful alliance been formed

        • +1 vote

          @Warier: Is the kool-aid you're drinking acidic or alkali?

          I assume the bullshit is alkali.

      • +5 votes

        Quick science here. Lemon juice is acidic. Ph of about 2 or 3 compared to water (7) or battery acid (1). When digested in small quantities in combination with water 'it can have an alkalizing affect' apparently…. But in this case it would not be a great idea. Rinse in water to ensure no chemicals are left to stop further damage. Then see suggestions below.


      • +4 votes

        something alkali like a lemon

        Lemon is not alkaline

      • +3 votes

        something alkali like a lemon

        “The acid in lemon juice really is a cleaning miracle.”

        From your own source:

        You really shouldn’t be giving anyone advice on using chemicals. You lack a basic understanding of chemistry.

    • +1 vote



      Can't you reverse it with electroplating

  • +9 votes
    • Take to jewelers and have them reset them - can probably show you different types to choose from
    • Take to market and find someone who makes jewellery and ask them how much to replace the mounts
    • If the metal is now strong again, can consider electroplating with silver - would do both so they match
    • In the future, take jewelry to a jeweller to have cleaned, or get an ultrasonic cleaner off eBay and use that with tap or distilled water and a drop of mild detergent.



      Yes, a manufacturing jeweller - not just the store.

      That stone setting may need a tradesman rather than a a non-tradespersons.

      My husband is in the industry - but another trade. He purchased a pair of earrings and matching pendant for my birthday recently.

      They come from a person calling herself a jeweller and designer but she sells on fb and etsy.

      The way the stones are wrapped into the sterling silver is beautiful and definitely handmade. However, the fittings are not soldered and this will come apart very quickly.

      A good qualified jeweller should use silver (or gold) solder and prevent weakness in joints - yet the solder parts are virtually impossible to see with the naked eye.

      Ask for it.

      A non precious metal solder is useless as it is soft and will also tarnish.


      +1 for electroplating the fittings

    • +1 vote

      Plate with rhodium.

  • +1 vote

    Most silver jewellery are plated with platinum to give them that extra shine and hardness.
    Silver by itself (esp at 925) is pretty soft. My take on it is that the platinum layer corroded off, making it soft.
    Tarnished silver gives off a sort of dirty rose gold look, which I think is what you have on hand.
    Buy a silver cleaning solution from a jeweler and soak it for the recommended amount of time, or have it reset in metal that doesn't tarnish.


    I clean my silver jewellery with baking soda. With plain jewellery you can boil water in a pot lined with aluminium foil and bicarb soda and put the jewellery in. However if it has gems then I just make a paste of bicarb and water and put it on some aluminium foil and either leave it for a day or rub it with my fingers to remove the tarnish.

  • -2 votes

    Buy real ones not fakes next time?

    • +2 votes

      Au contraire I'm glad I only ruined my "fake" jewellery. It's a valuable lesson I'm sure to remember

  • -2 votes

    Get a new boyfriend.


    Ask your boyfriend to buy you a 24k gold diamond earring.


    Sorry about the earrings, they are a beautiful classic style! Very similar to what I wore for my wedding.

    I think there has been a lot of good advice so far.

    I'd also second the suggestion to buy a small cheap ultrasonic cleaner off eBay - think mine cost about $30. Our family friend who has been in the diamond business 50 years told me to do this and clean wth a few drops of dishwashing detergent in water. It sparkles my jewelry up perfectly and is very gentle!

  • +1 vote

    I have no idea how trustowrthy this website is, but you could try your luck buying a new pair here:

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