Sterling silver is an attractive material for jewelry, and, like all jewelry, it requires maintenance. Learn about sterling silver care here.
Whether it's a collection of silver accessories or a few pieces in your wardrobe, you must have wondered about the best way to care for your jewelry. Proper care will leave your sterling silver looking brilliant and beautiful as new.
Sterling silver care involves tips for cleaning, storage, and wearing of the jewelry.
Sterling silver consists of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper and other alloys. The added metals have elements which lead to tarnishing. Tarnishing is when sterling silver becomes dull and cloudy because of oxidation.
Lucky for you, we have put together a quick and simple routine you can use to care and maintain all the sterling silver pieces in your wardrobe.
Storage of Sterling Silver
The proper method for storing 925 silver ensures that the pieces are free from oxidation, so they don’t take on a dull or discolored appearance.
The following are the proper steps to follow when storing sterling silver jewelry;
1. Store each piece in a different air-tight container such as a pouch or Ziploc bag to prevent the pieces from rubbing against each other.
2. Always make sure that you store sterling silver in a cool and dry place. The storage room should be air-conditioned in case the weather condition is continuously hot. Bathrooms are no-go storage zones because the warmth and moisture tarnish sterling silver fast.
3. Place the jewelry together with anti-tarnish strips in jewelry boxes. Ensure you line inside the jewelry box with tarnish-resistant materials when storing for an extended period.
4. Avoid paper boxes, cardboard compartments, and cotton boxes. This is because they may have traces of sulfur which speeds up the tarnishing of sterling silver.
Cleaning of Sterling Silver
You may have noticed the darkening and discoloration that occurs when you wear a piece of sterling jewelry over time. The undesirable effect is due to dirt and oil and makeup residue collecting on the surface of the silver and clouding its shine.
The advisable way to clean sterling silver is by gently wiping it down with a soft piece of cloth for maintaining original luster. The chemical components found in most liquid jewelry cleaners will only hasten the tarnishing of the silver if it used for regular polishing.
Using soap or baking soda paste and water is the most recommended method for cleaning sterling silver at home. Only non-whitening or non-gel based kinds of toothpaste can be used on jewelry because they do not contain chemical agents that may lead to the tarnishing of sterling silver.
Soaking sterling silver for about three hours in a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda in a sink before cleaning is the most effective way to remove heavy tarnish. After soaking, remove the jewelry from the drain and pat dry.
Polishing always follows a proper cleaning process and should be done using a unique piece of cloth which is pre-treated with gentle chemicals that restore the sterling silver’s initial brilliance.
You should clean and polish sterling silver jewelry regularly to prevent the tarnish from accumulating on the metal surface of the silver pieces. The more the tarnish on the silver, the more difficult it is to restore the initial shine before oxidation.
Materials Used to Prevent Tarnish
There are materials which are developed to prevent tarnishing and are used regularly in the sterling silver care routine;
1. Chalk is used to absorb humidity and moisture to avoid the oxidation of sterling silver jewelry when it is stored together with the pieces.
2. Silica packs are found inside new shoes and clothes and are great for absorbing moisture. They can also be kept together with sterling silver in storage.
3. Anti-tarnish cloths are treated with chemicals that absorb sulfur and humidity from the air. It is advisable that you layer the jewelry boxes for storage with anti-tarnish lining to prevent the oxidation of the jewelry.
The easiest way to prevent tarnish from coating the jewelry surface is regularly wearing the sterling silver pieces as it keeps them looking beautiful and brilliant.
Stopping tarnish from forming on the jewelry is far more convenient and easier than cleaning it after it accumulates on the surface of sterling silver. Therefore, it is recommendable to clean and polish immediately tarnish begins to form on the jewelry.
If you have a sizeable amount of sterling silver jewelry, you can balance the at-home cleaning tips and procedures with at least an annual professional cleaning appointment with a certified jewelry dealer.
General Dos and Don’ts of Sterling Silver Care
1. Do purchase original sterling silver from a certified dealer rather than fake silver-plated ornaments and jewelry.Do clean and polish your sterling silver wear as soon as you see tarnish beginning to form on the surface.
2. Do remove your sterling silver before you enter a swimming pool (especially a chlorinated pool), shower, gym and before doing the dishes or the laundry. Sterling silver tarnishes quickly after exposure to moisture for long periods.
3. Do use a toothbrush with soft bristles to clean your silver with up-and-down wipes and brushes.
4. Do study the instructions provided by the jeweler for any special cleaning and polishing directions. This is especially important for sterling silver pieces encrusted with other precious gemstones.
5. Don’t scrub too hard or scratch the silver when cleaning or polishing.
6. Don’t use ‘metal-cleaning’ agents but silver-cleaning products on your sterling silver jewelry.
7. Don't use steel wool to scrub the tarnish off your sterling silver no matter how dense the coating looks.
8. Don’t be afraid to consult an expert and ask questions about proper cleaning and maintenance techniques for sterling silver.
If you follow these essential sterling silver care tips and instructions, you will be sure to preserve the natural beauty and shine of your precious jewelry pieces. This will also guarantee a lifetime of enjoyable fashion accessorizing and investment.
Besides, your sterling silver jewelry will always be as bright and sparkling as new for years to come!
For more tips and information about the care and maintenance of sterling silver accessories, please check out our website.