How To Clean and Care for Sterling Silver Jewelry

November 20, 2012

Sterling silver jewelry is both known for it’s beauty and ability to stand the test of time. But just because it’s durable doesn’t mean it lacks the need for special treatment. Read below to find out exactly how to care for you sterling silver jewelry!

Over time, sterling silver can and will tarnish. Tarnish is a darkening that forms over metals as their outermost layer undergoes a chemical reaction. Usually it’s due to the piece’s natural exposure to air, but can also be from water, hand lotions, and other foreign substances. For this reason, it’s important to remove your sterling silver jewelry when showering, exercising, washing your hands, etc. I know it’s convenient to leave your jewelry on, but removing it will keep your piece shinier longer. Furthermore, it prevents any damage or pitting to the surface that cannot be fixed and will make it appear dull even when polished.

1. Polishing Cloth. Fortunately cleaning sterling silver jewelry can be done at home. The best option is to purchase a polishing cloth, like Goddard’s. What’s great about the cloth is that it can be used on all jewelry, not just sterling. I highly recommend it. In fact, if you purchased your ring through my jewelry shop, the cloth that came with your order is, in fact, a small sample of a Goddard’s cloth.

2. Vinegar. Another remedy (and green too!) is to warm a class of white vinegar and allow your piece to sit in it. This may take longer that chemically-based options but it will get the job done.

3. Fine steel wool. Fine steel wool can be used to polish your piece and can easily be purchased at your local hardware store. However, it may not be able to get into the nooks and crannies and will shed as you use it, so be sure to polish over a trash receptacle.

4. Baking sodas. Another “home remedy” is to create a mixture of baking soda, water, and lemon juice. Rub your piece with the concoction and a tooth brush to remove any tough to reach tarnish.

Restoring Design Details
With all this cleaning, any oxidized areas purposely placed to highlight details and designs may fade. Although as the piece re-oxidizes (tarnishes) the details will be restored, the fastest option is to color in the areas with a Sharpie and remove any excess with a polishing cloth or fine steel wool. It’s fast and works every time.

Green Fingers
Not an urban myth, sterling silver CAN still turn fingers green. If you’re not normally allergic to sterling silver, there’s most likely a residue on the inside of the band that is causing the skin reaction. Clean with the above methods daily until the reaction stops occurring.

There you have it! Follow the above directions and your sterling silver jewelry will always be in tip-top shape!

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