All people who wear sterling silver jewelry need to care for it on occasion. Sterling silver tarnishes, and we need to clean and polish it to keep it sparkling. Highly polished silver can reflect up to 95% of direct light back to the viewer, giving it a truly mirror like finish. Some pieces just don’t look right unless they’re really polished – to a bright shine while other pieces look their best with an “antique style” finish.
As a natural material, silver reacts with its environment, especially the chemicals in the air and, over time, silver does become tarnished. This doesn’t mean that your fabulous new piece of jewelry is defective, far from it, it just proves that your beautiful accessory is good quality silver.
It’s very easy to get your silver jewellery back to its former glory and, like most things, the earlier you catch the tarnish the easier it is to get rid of it. When tarnish starts to turn any colour from yellowy brown to black you may have to get it professionally cleaned.
You can clean your mildly tarnished silver at home with sterling silver dips – but you do need to be careful! The dips, while very effective at removing tarnish, are equally as effective at removing the colour and polish off gemstones. It’s a good rule not to dip any jewellery with stones, but gemstones that are particularly affected are pearls, sodalite, malachite, lapis lazuli, white opals, turquoise or any soft or porous stones.
Also remember not to leave your jewelry in the dip too long and don’t rinse it off with cold water otherwise you could find your jewellery gets a white residue which can be as hard to remove as the tarnish. To make sure your jewellery stays perfect, always read the manufacturer’s instructions.
To clean untarnished silver (and keep it that way), use a phosphate-free detergent or non-abrasive cloth made for cleaning jewelry – these cloths should come with a built in jewellery cleaner.
There are also some preventative steps you can take – so that you won’t have to worry about tarnished silver. Cleaning your silver regularly is one way to avoid it but you can also avoid tarnish by wearing your jewelry often. Just be careful that when you’re wearing your silver that you don’t expose it to household chemicals, hair products, perfumes, cosmetics, perspiration, rubber, latex, chlorinated water or direct sunlight.
Avoiding (or at least reducing) tarnish is easy, just make sure you put your make-up, perfume and hairspray on before you put your jewelry on – and take off your silver jewelry before you go swimming and sunbathing. Getting dressed just like your granny used to, with jewelry last, has more than just quaint traditionalism to recommend it – it’s a habit that’ll help keep your jewelry sparkling and beautiful.