I often oxidize the silver before I complete the piece, creating a contrast between the darkened (oxidized) surface and highly polished areas. I let the recessed parts of the design carry the darkened color and let the raised parts gleam. Avoid using liquid silver cleaner on these pieces because it will remove all the oxidation. Rather, use a dry silver polishing cloth to restore the sparkle and store your pieces in a zip lock bag to keep them shiny and bright.
If your jewelry needs a major cleaning , follow these instructions using Wright's Brass Polish (can be purchased online or at your local hardware store). The reason I use the brass polish and not the silver polish is because the liquid silver polish takes off the nice oxidation I put on my pieces. The brass polish just takes off the grime. It's amazing!
You will need:
Place your jewelry in a Pyrex dish, cover with the Wright's Brass Polish.
Cut a small piece of a clean sponge, dampen it, dip it in the bowl then dab all over your jewelry. You don't want to rub it just dab.
Try and get in all the recessed areas.
Because my jewelry has so much form, rinse really well under running water. You don't want the cleaner to dry on the jewelry or it will dry as a white powder. I use a baby toothbrush to gently get in the little hard to reach places while running it under the tap.
If a piece of yours has a stone in it, you will notice I always drill a hole under the stone. This allows the light to shine through and provides a place for moisture to escape. If the brass cleaner gets into that hole and dries, you may want to use a water pick to get it out. Better yet, avoid that by putting a little piece of scotch tape over the hole, take it off after rinsing, then rinse some more.
This brass cleaner works like magic on all sterling silver, but naturally, I only guarantee my own.