Has it ever happened to you going to the jewelry shop with your silver jewelry turned black, thinking you have lost it forever? Well, if you have been wearing your silver pieces in the hot tub, or not taken them off while showering, it has happened to you.
See, silver jewelry usually comes at a 92.5 % purity. You might have also encountered the 925 silver marking on your jewelry. It specifies the purity of silver that lands on a numeric scale, or rating system. 925 silver (sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925) or sterling silver is the silver jewelry quality standard in most world markets. It is an alloy of 92.5 % silver with the remaining 7.5 % being another metal, usually copper. It is copper that causes silver jewelry to tarnish. This is absolutely normal, and doesn’t mean your precious piece is ruined.
The chemical process of tarnishing in silver jewelry
When you first bought or received that silver necklace, it was gleaming. With the passing of time, you may have noticed the precious metal starting to darken. The piece looks less lustrous than it once did. This is called tarnishing.
Tarnishing is a chemical process that occurs when silver is in contact with air. Air contains sulfur-gases that cause silver to discolour and darken, forming this way, a layer of tarnish in the surface. Tarnish disfigures a silver object but it can be easily removed by polishing.
However, every time silver is polished, some particles are lost. It can cause your silver jewelry after several polishes to disform, something that you don’t want to happen. On silver-plated jewelry, the issue is more intense. Unlike platinum or titanium jewelry, these pieces are prone to tarnishing and can as well be polished. But the polishing can seriously damage the thin layer of silver plating, or remove it completely. This is why you can do a favor to yourself and protect your silver jewelry pieces from tarnishing in the first place. Note: Only pure 999 silver will not tarnish.
How to Clean Silver Jewelry?
Choose Jewelry-Safe Silver Cleaners
Out of many jewelry cleaners, ways, tools, and materials, you should opt for the ones specifically made for your jewelry type. Other things to consider when choosing a silver cleaner is the purity. Is the jewelry crafted from sterling silver or is it silver-plated? In addition, you may also want to take care of any gemstones or crystals set in your piece. For as long as you have these two notes considered, you can safely continue to use silver cleaners.
Keep it Simple with Silver Dips
The best way is also the easiest. A silver dip contains the necessary chemicals that can remove that unwanted tarnish from your jewelry. Silver dips are preferred as they are easy to use and within no time can make your jewelry look like new. However, there are certain drawbacks of silver dips you must know.
- Artificial gems set in the silver jewelry can lose their coating when put in a silver dip. Porous gems like pearls and opals, and other precious gemstones, can lose their polished surface.
- Not cleaning your silver jewelry after resurfacing can cause the corrosion to continue on silver, damaging this way the piece. Keep in mind to always rinse your jewelry pieces after dipping them.
- Make sure to not dip your antique silver jewelry. It can cause irreversible damages that include removing that aged texture or patina. Any engravings or scratches on the piece will then be exposed.
Use Ultrasonic Cleaners with Caution
When looking for a good silver tarnish remover, an ultrasonic cleaner is an effective solution that also comes at an affordable price. This technological piece uses ultrasonic waves of up to 42.000 hz. The waves agitate water to reach dust and dirt accumulated in jewelry in parts that household items cannot. Cleaning silver jewelry is something ultrasonic cleaners can do well. However, they are not appropriate for every material, so keep these considerations in mind when using ultrasonic jewelry cleaners.
- Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner on pieces with porous or sensitive gems. Pearls, emeralds, turquoise, opals, coral, shell cameos, jet, amber, ivory, and tortoiseshell jewelry cannot enter in a ultrasonic cleaner.
- Jewelry containing wax-coated gems cannot be cleaned by an ultrasonic cleaner. In addition, check the jewelry pieces for any broken chain link, or poor setting. Gems can be easily dislodged in such conditions.
- Do not put antique silver jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner or it will lose its precious patina.
- Avoid adding any cleaning agent in an ultrasonic cleaner.
- If your silver jewelry doesn’t include porous gems or other crystals, it is safe to go in an ultrasonic cleaner.
Use Silver Polishes and Wipes
You can utilize the conventional methods of cleaning silver jewelry. Silver polishes and wipes are up to the challenge to help clean your precious pieces in no time. And if you’re traveling, disposable wipes or polishing cloths are a perfect solution to keep your silver jewelry clean. Simply keep in mind the following tips when using silver polishes:
- When cleaning your silver jewelry with polishes, avoid the paste or solution from getting near gemstones or crystals. Much like with dips, gemstones can lose their beautiful shine.
- Avoid using polishing cloth in silver jewelry with great detail work. It can fade the engravings significantly.
- Before storing, gently clean your silver jewelry with jewelry-safe wipes (don’t use paper towels).
How to keep silver jewelry from tarnishing?
Live by the rule “First off, last on”
Knowing when to remove your silver jewelry is key to preserving their beautiful shine and classic look. For silver to not get discolored or darken over time, you must take it off before going to bed, showering, bathing, washing the dishes, cleaning your house, or doing water-based activities. This will not only keep silver away from tarnishing but also prevent any unwanted scratches.
Careful with Potions and Lotions
When getting dressed to start your day in the morning, or preparing for a night out, try to put your silver jewelry last. This way you are protecting your jewelry from any unwanted contact with perfume, hair products, or body and hand lotions. These products contain chemicals that can cause finish jewelry issues like tarnish, and abrasives building up.
We recommend putting on your lotion after having removed your jewelry, or applying hair spray before accessorizing. Other acids and abrasives that can cause your silver jewelry to tarnish are also found in household chemicals. Chemicals can make your jewelry look dull, weaken the metal bonds, and slowly erode the polish and finish. What to watch out for? Dish lotions, solvents, window cleaners, and detergents, all contain abrasives that can damage your silver jewelry in the long run.
Put your Jewelry on Rotation
Although jewelry is a woman’s best friend, it is not meant to be worn 24/7. Give your silver and other jewelries a break every once in a while. Experiment with new trends or show some love to other pieces. This way, you can treasure your jewelry collection for a lifetime.
How to Store Silver Jewelry?
Use a Jewelry Organizer
The number one enemy of silver is the tarnishing process. It can be avoided by exposing your jewelry as little as possible to air, (surely, expect from when you are wearing it). What we would recommend is storing your silver jewelry properly.
Find a jewelry box that solves the storage problem of your jewelry collection and matches your home/ room decor. This way, you will be exposing your silver jewelry less to excessive light and temperature. In addition, a jewelry organizer with its specific slots, will prevent silver from scratching.
Use Airtight Jewelry Bags
An airtight jewelry bag is tarnish-resistant. It seals your jewels and keeps them safe from any damage. This way, you are preserving your pieces well by keeping dust, dirt, light, and even air away. It is the only solution you have to keep silver jewelry from tarnishing. You can find airtight jewelry bags online at an affordable cost. Eventually you will be glad you ordered.
Use Jewelry Pouches for Traveling
For the heavy traveler who cannot bear to live without its jewelry for a single moment, a jewelry pouch is made for you. Instead of finding a mess on your suitcase upon arrival, you can organize your earrings, necklaces and pendants, rings and bracelets, with order. Much like those round baby bonnets, a jewelry pouch is safely enclosed with a drawstring. It will keep not only silver, but any piece of jewelry safe and clean when you’re traveling.
A Last Note
In this article, we have aligned the best cleaners, organizers, and valuable tips to keep silver jewelry, but not only, safe from tarnishing, and other sources of deterioration. Keep in mind that a tarnish resistant bag is of utmost importance, in addition to using jewelry safe cleaners, and proper storing.