Sterling silver is best known for it’s versatility and simple beauty. With its delicate and refined qualities, it’s no wonder that this metal has become a staple in the jewelry industry. As sterling silver jewelry can naturally tarnish over time, taking a little extra care of your pieces can help prevent tarnish and make your jewelry dazzle for years to come. Protecting your pieces doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive- all you need are a few household items and a couple of minutes!
WHAT IS STERLING SILVER?
Sterling silver is an alloy (combination) of silver and other metals. Silver in its purest form is incredibly malleable, which is why it is commonly combined with other metals to make it more durable. Jewlr uses non-tarnishing 925 sterling silver, which is 92.5% pure silver mixed with 7.5% metal alloy. This is one of the highest quality types of sterling silver. All sterling silver will eventually need to be polished or cleaned depending on the frequency of wear.
To keep jewelry looking brand new, put on after applying any makeup or perfumes and remove before bathing.
The oil from your skin can help prevent tarnish and even ‘clean’ the pieces, but cosmetics and sprays can accelerate tarnishing. Putting jewelry on after applying makeup, perfume or hairspray can limit these effects. Taking your jewelry off before bathing or swimming can also help decelerate the effects of tarnishing.
Remember that prevention starts with mindfulness! Taking a few precautions every day can really extend the longevity of your jewelry! Your jewelry box will thank you.
Keep your jewelry in a dry area in an airtight plastic bag.
Air exposure and humidity can make sterling silver tarnish even when it’s stored away. The best way to prevent this is to store pieces in an airtight plastic bag and place in a low-humidity area (like a bedroom instead of a bathroom). Pieces of chalk or packages of silica in the storing area also helps limit tarnish.
For minor tarnishing or as just a way to make your pieces pop, polishing will give you sparkling results in under a minute. Give these a try to be a polishing pro.
Tools: Because sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% metal alloy, polishing your jewelry with a silver cloth clean your pieces in seconds. However, any lint-free flannel or non abrasive cloth will also work just as well.
The Motion: When polishing, use long back-and-forth motions that go with the grain of the silver. Avoid rubbing because it may scratch the silver. Using a q-tip can help get into small crevices without damaging your piece.
To give your pieces some extra TLC, here are some ways to make your jewelry shine in a jiffy.
Soap and water: One of the most effective and timeless cleaning methods is to mix ammonia-free phosphate-free dish soap and warm water in a bowl. Using a toothbrush, dip the brush into the soapy solution and gently apply. This is safe to use on pieces with or without gemstones.
Baking soda and water: Mix the two ingredients together to make a paste and use a clean cloth to gently apply. Then run under warm water and dry with a clean cloth. This is safe to use for pieces with gemstones as well.
Olive oil and lemon juice: Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 tsp. olive oil in a small bowl that will hold the cleaning solution and a small microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth in the solution and wring it out so that it doesn’t drip, then polish, rinse, and dry. To be safe, avoid using directly on gemstones. Clean gemstones by using water on a non-abrasive cloth to polish.
Cream silver polish: Using a store-bought polish can a quick and easy fix to clean jewelry. Apply the cream to the corner of a non-abrasive cloth/towel and rub in a back-and-forth motion. Let sit for one to two minutes, or according to package instructions, and polish with a clean lint-free cloth. This method is safe to use on pieces with gemstones as well.
When all else fails, these tips are for the most stubborn tarnish build-up.
White vinegar and baking soda: Soak the piece in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp. baking soda for two to three hours, then rinse and dry.
Please note: this method is not recommended for pieces with gemstones, as soaking could damage the stone.
Baking soda, salt, aluminum foil, and boiling water: Line a glass roasting pan or the kitchen sink with aluminum foil, dull side facing down. Place the silver pieces on top of the aluminum foil. Then pour one to two cups of boiling water over the pieces until covered and add 2 tbsp. each of baking soda and salt. Stir the solution to allow the baking soda to dissolve — you don’t want any granules scratching the metal. The tarnish will then transfer to the foil, and in 5-10 minutes the tarnish will disappear. Warning: Be prepared for a ‘rotten eggs’ odor as the sulfide tarnish comes off the silver. Using salad tongs (do not touch!), remove the silver jewelry from the hot water or drain into a colander. Rinse the jewelry with water, then dry and buff with a soft cloth.
Please note: this method is not recommended for pieces with gemstones, as soaking could damage the stone. To avoid damage, do not soak for longer than 15 minutes total.