Sterling silver jewelry is bound to tarnish over time if it is exposed to air. Sterling silver is composed of 92.5% silver and 7.5% hardening alloys such as copper. These other metals react to moisture and sulfur in the air, causing the sterling silver tarnish. For this reason, sterling silver tarnishes faster in areas with a lot of air pollution and high humidity. Chemicals such as hairspray, perfume, and body lotion can also speed up the tarnishing process.
If you own any jewelry, it is important to learn about removing and preventing tarnish on sterling silver jewelry in order to enjoy them for a long time.
Preventing Tarnish on Sterling Silver Jewelry
The most effective way to prevent sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing is to store it in a clean, dry airtight container such as a Ziploc bag or Tupperware.
You may want to use an anti-tarnish strip with the jewelry in the container, which will help to absorb tarnish-causing elements.
Do not wear sterling silver jewelry in the shower, hot tub, or swimming pool.
Do not leave sterling silver jewelry in the bathroom where it can be exposed to high humidity and moisture.
Minimize the contact to hairspray, perfume, and lotion by using these products sparingly and prior to wearing your jewelry.
After removing your sterling silver jewelry, clean with a soft dry cloth prior to storing it.
Removing Tarnish on Sterling Silver Jewelry
If a piece of sterling silver jewelry shows signs of tarnish, clean it right away without letting it sit longer.
To remove oxidation from silver, use a silver polishing cloth. If the cloth does not remove all the tarnish, wash the jewelry (without stones or pearls) in warm water.
Put a few drops of mild dish washing soap in the warm water, then immerse the jewelry in the water and gently hand wash.
You can use a Q tip or soft baby toothbrush for tight corners.
For sterling silver jewelry that has gemstones or pearls, use a Q tip with mild dish washing soap to clean only the silver areas.
Once your pieces are thoroughly rinsed, make sure they are completely dry before storing.
Jewelry cleaning solutions are another option for removing and preventing tarnish on sterling silver jewelry. These solutions will remove any and all oxidation, even on pieces that are meant to have oxidation to bring out textures and patterns.
If any of these solutions do not successfully remove the tarnish from the sterling silver jewelry, it may require a visit to a professional jeweler who can use more advanced equipment and techniques.
It is not recommended to use toothpaste or baking soda for cleaning tarnish, as they may scratch the surface of the silver.
Do not use harsh chemicals such as bleach or acetone to clean your silver because they can make silver more dull and ruin the surface.
The most effective approach to removing and preventing tarnish on sterling silver jewelry is to properly store clean, dry sterling silver to prevent the tarnish in the first place! If tarnishing does begin to surface, cleaning it as soon as it appears will make the process much easier.
Removing and preventing tarnish on sterling silver jewelry is one of the best ways you can enjoy your beautiful pieces for years to come.