Proper care of your most treasured jewelry pieces is essential to making sure they last a lifetime. Sterling silver is a brilliant material made from an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Copper is added to the silver to produce a more durable end product, as pure silver is a soft and malleable metal that’s not ideal for use in jewelry. However, even sterling silver requires special care to prevent damage and tarnish build-up.
In the jewelry industry, the terms “sterling silver” and “silver” are often used interchangeably. This is because pure silver is rarely used in making jewelry due to it’s soft finish. That, and saying “sterling silver” over-and-over is exhausting (at least we think so). So, when you hear a jeweler say “silver,” clarify if they mean sterling silver. In this case, we do!
Knowing how and where to store your silver jewelry when you’re not wearing it is a great way to prevent the tarnish that dulls and darkens your pieces. Silver jewelry should be stored in a cool, dry room – not in a bathroom where moisture, heat and steam can lead to fast tarnishing.
It should also be stored in soft, cloth bags or pouches to separate them from mingling with other items. It should not be kept in a sealed plastic bag, however, as they can trap moisture and accelerate tarnish buildup. Additionally, silver jewelry should never be wrapped in newspaper, as certain inks are acidic and can pit and corrode the item.
One way to maintain the shine and condition of your silver accessories is to occasionally clean and gently polish the piece with warm water and a soft cloth whenever you notice any darkening or diminished gleam. It’s important to note that while regular cleaning is helpful in maintaining a silver piece’s shine, over cleaning can wear away at the silver plating and end up damaging the piece in the long run.
Beware of certain DIY silver cleaning tips. While certain DIY methods are harmless, some popular suggestions, such as toothpaste or baking soda, can scratch and wear away at silver’s soft finish. Also avoid cleaning with rough cloths or stiff brushes, as they are also too abrasive for silver.
When attempting to remove stubborn tarnish on your silver jewelry, start by washing the piece with warm water and a mild detergent. Dry the jewelry with a clean, soft cloth (microfiber cloths or cotton t-shirt squares work great!), then use a silver polish of your choice to gently work away the tarnish. If you can see a visible polish direction in the surface of your silver (i.e. vertical strokes or horizontal strokes), polish with that direction, not against it. Also, use silver polish in a well ventilated room – it’s a pungent smelling solution and you don’t want to be breathing in the vapors directly.
We understand that your jewelry is important to you, and with proper care it will continue to look shiny and new, year after year. So now that you’re basically a silver care expert, go ahead and show off your sparkling, polished jewelry with pride.
We’re here to answer any questions you may have – silver related or not – by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.