Sterling silver contains 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper.
If you’re looking at a piece of jewelry that is darkened or appears dirty, then your silver has tarnished; but, there’s no need to neglect this piece or get rid of it!
Tarnish is simply the result of a chemical reaction with oxygen or sulfur particles in the air. With a few easy-to-follow tips, you can take care of your sterling silver jewelry and make it last for years to come!
PREVENTING TARNISH WITH THESE DAILY WEARING TIPS
Knowing what’s harmful to your sterling silver jewelry is the best way to combat tarnish.
Dry silver is happy silver.
Interesting fact: pure water by itself doesn't damage sterling silver, but most of the water we're exposed to in our daily lives is not purified. Chemicals and contaminants in the water can result in tarnished and dull-looking silver, so it's best to know what's what when it comes to water.
Shower.It's not a great idea to shower with your jewelry on, but once in a while isn't going to do any lasting damage. Just make sure to dry it after.
Swimming Pool.Take your silver off. Chlorine is a pretty harsh chemical, so if you accidentally forget to remove your silver jewelry before hopping in, make sure to rinse and clean it afterward.
Hot Tub. Same idea as the swimming pool, but there's even more chlorine in the hot tub and the heat can accelerate the chemical reaction.
Hot Springs. The sulfur in natural hot springs will wreak havoc on your silver. Unless you're going for that "dark oxidized" look, avoid at all costs.
Bonus Tip: Chemicals in lotions and perfumes can also cause your jewelry to tarnish. Apply them first, let them dry, and then put your jewelry on. This alone can make a HUGE difference in your silver's luster.
Maitain proper storage
If you leave a fancy car out in the rain, what happens? It gets dirty! A similar principle applies to sterling silver care. You need appropriate storage for your stunning pieces. And, you need to be diligent about maintenance.
Air exposure can wreak havoc by tarnishing your delicate silver. Don't just leave it lying on your nightstand or in an open jewelry chest. And, don't just leave it in your purse or drawer!
It's best to store silver in individual, air-tight bags with anti-tarnish properties. These types of bags keep air exposure out and keep the shininess and brilliance intact.
Unclasp and unhook the jewelry to avoid potential scratching. Do NOT bunch several pieces in the same bag to save time or space. This can create tangling, scratching, tarnish, and that is exactly what we are trying to avoid here!
For additional preventative efforts, silica gel packets provide anti-tarnish protection. Throw one in each bag for extra care.
Finally, if you are traveling with your jewelry (because we know you want to look glamorous when in paradise), be sure to use a special case for protection! The last issue you want to deal with on vacation is scratched-up jewelry, right?
Know when to take off your jewelry
Yes, we know how much you love your gorgeous ring or bracelet. And, we know it can be hard to take those babies on and off again. But, it's critical, and here's why.
Strong chemicals, sulfur, sweat and perspiration, chlorine, and harsh sunlight can tarnish and corrode the brilliant shine you love in your silver.
Don't take your chances. Preventative care is significantly easier than dealing with damaged jewelry!
It is optimal to remove jewelry during the following times:
Household chores, such as dishes, laundry, and when using cleaning supplies
When exercising, at the gym, or playing contact sports
When showering or bathing
Swimming, hot tubs, or saunas
Very hot places (such as when lying out at the beach or pool)
When getting ready (i.e: putting on lotion, makeup, hair products)
Preparing, cooking, or eating foods that contain sulfur (this includes eggs and mayonnaise).
Outside chores or tasks, such as gardening
Preventative care is ALWAYS easier than aftercare!
CLEANING YOUR STERLING SILVER
Polish it pretty
Silver is delicate, and, despite our best efforts, it can still get dirty. Fortunately, sterling silver care can be as easy as a fast rubdown.
To do this, use a simple microfiber cloth or special jewelry cloth (not paper towels or toilet paper) to clean your goods.
Focus on maintaining long up-and-down strokes to clean the jewelry. Be sure to use different parts of the cloth to avoid spreading any tarnish. Do not use circular motions here, as it can actually make the tarnish or dirt worse. Be sure to avoid polishing any part of the jewelry that is intentionally oxidized.
Make your own DIY cleaner
Are you storing your jewelry correctly and polishing it, but still looking for a greater shine? Needing just a bit more brilliance? Check out some of our favorite, tried-and-true cleaning methods.
Note: these are natural cleaning methods, as the harsh chemicals in professional cleaning products can be incredibly taxing on your jewelry.
Water and baking soda method
You will need 2 parts water to 1 part baking soda (use a bit more water if the jewelry has delicate features). Stir into a paste. Use an old toothbrush or cleaning wand to apply this DIY cleaner in gentle motions and movements.
Dish liquid and water dish
No fancy cleaning methods needed for this option. Simply rinse the jewelry off in the same way you would clean your own hands.