How to Care for Sterling Silver Jewelry and Findings
How should I care for my Sterling Silver jewelry and findings?
Preventing Tarnish on Sterling Silver:
- The best way to prevent tarnishing is to store clean, dry sterling silver in a dry airtight container, like a ziplock bag.
- An anti-tarnish strip with the silver jewelry in a ziplock bag will help fight against tarnish.
- Don’t leave silver jewelry in the bathroom. Humidity can speed up the oxidation process that produces tarnish.
- Minimize sterling silver’s contact to chemicals (hairspray, perfume, body lotion, bleach, etc.) and do not wear it the shower, swimming pool or hot tub.
- After taking off silver jewelry, clean it with a dry soft cloth before putting it back into an airtight container.
- A general rule of thumb for silver jewelry: it should be the last thing put on before leaving the house, and the first thing removed when returning home. This will help minimize your jewelry’s contact with perfumes, lotions, and other chemicals.
Cleaning Tarnished Sterling Silver:
- Always remove jewelry before showering or cleaning. A film can form if soap or cleaning agents are not washed off completely. This film will become a magnet for dirt, dust and other contaminants.
- Use a silver polishing cloth to remove oxidation from silver. Tissues and paper towels can cause scratches. We recommend using a Sunshine Cloth. Be sure to use fresh cloths since the dirt and grit left on the cloth from a previous use can leave scrapes and pits. Use light pressure and allow the cloth to do the work for you. If your arm starts to ache, you’re probably pressing too hard.
- Commercial cleaners can be purchased at jewelry stores. Always remember to read the instructions on the commercial cleaners first before you attempt cleaning. Most commercial cleaners are very strong and will remove all oxidation! Many of our designs are purposely oxidized then polished, so that crevices are darkened to bring out the depth and beauty of a piece. Take care not to remove this design element. Do not go overboard!
- If you’d like to avoid harsh commercial cleaners and the polishing cloth doesn’t work, wash silver jewelry (without gemstones or pearls) in warm water containing a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid. Immerse the sterling silver in the water and gently hand wash. Use a cotton swab for tight corners. A soft baby toothbrush can be used for more abrasive cleaning when needed. Thoroughly rinse and completely dry the sterling silver before storing, as moisture is one of the factors that contribute to tarnishing!
- Never clean your jewelry in bleach! Doing this will literally breakdown your jewelry. Bleach is an oxidizing agent that will react to the metal, causing it to become very brittle. Remember to remove your jewelry before swimming or soaking in a hot tub too!
- If the jewelry contains gemstones or pearls, do not submerge the entire piece into water. Instead, use a cotton swab with mild dishwashing liquid to wash only the silver. Again, thoroughly rinse and completely dry the sterling silver before storing, as moisture is one of the factors that contribute to tarnishing! Chlorine bleach, denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia are all harmful to gemstones and pearls. These chemicals can dull or even pit the surface on softer gemstones, like amber, turquoise, lapis, and more.
- Never use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones. Some websites recommend toothpaste as a cleaner, but this is not an accepted practice by fine jewelers. The abrasives in toothpaste can damage the surface of the metal. Toothpaste will also abrade the surface on amber, lapis, turquoise and other soft stones.
- If this steps do not remove the tarnish on the sterling silver, it may require a visit to a professional jeweler who will either clean the sterling silver with an ultrasonic cleaner, or buff it with stages of abrasive paper.