How to Care for Sterling Silver Jewelry

July 01, 2015

Sterling Silver is a popular material for jewelry for its versatility and beauty. Over time, the metal can tarnish or corrode. It is important to properly care for Sterling Silver jewelry to keep it looking as beautiful as the first day you received it. Proper care includes being conscious of how you store, wear, and clean your jewelry.

What Causes Tarnishing

Tarnishing, also known as oxidation, is caused when oxygen or sulfer comes in contact with sterling silver. It gives it a darker color. Sterling Silver comes in different levels of purity (i.e. 0.95 or 0.925) and higher purity silver will tarnish more quickly. Sometimes, sterling silver is intentionally oxidized to create depth and certain details on a piece of jewelry.

Storing Sterling Silver Jewelry

Oxygen in the air will tarnish Sterling Silver, so properly storing your jewelry will help minimize that oxidation. Here are some storage tips:

  • Store individual pieces separately.
  • Store each piece in an airtight bag.
  • Place in an area with low humidity.
  • Keep clasps/closures unhooked.
  • Place a packet of silica or piece of chalk in the storage bag.

Wearing Sterling Silver Jewelry

Wearing your Sterling Silver jewelry regularly can actually help prevent tarnishing since the oils from your body have a cleaning effect. However, some activities can accelerate tarnishing or even caus corrosion. You should remove your Sterling Silver jewelry before doing any of the following:

  • Using household cleaning supplies.
  • Cooking with mustard, onions, eggs, or any other foods that contain sulfer.
  • Sunbathing
  • Swimming
  • Spraying Hairspray
  • Putting on Lotion and Makeup

Caring for Sterling Silver

Polishing Sterling Silver is typically the best way to clean your Sterling Silver jewelry. Be sure to do the following:

  • Use a special non-abrasive cloth to avoid scratching.
  • Frequently rotate to a new section of the cloth.
  • Avoid areas that are intentionally oxidized.
  • Do not rub in a circular pattern,… follow the grain of the silver.
  • Avoid rubbing too hard on engraved sections.

If you have severe tarnishing or antique pieces that need extra care, considering sending your Sterling Silver jewelry to a professional for cleaning. Beware of commercial cleaning solutions as many present a health hazard or may damage your jewelry.  

Summary of Proper Care for Sterling Silver Jewelry

To properly care for Sterling Silver jewelry, give a little extra thought to how you store, wear, and polish it. Store your jewelry in a dry and air-tight place, separating each individual piece. Wear your jewelry often, but be sure to remove it when working with certain chemicals or foods that contain sulfer. As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to put on your jewelry last when getting dressed. Polishing your jewelry before it becomes too tarnished will minimize the amount of work needed, but be sure to use the right type of cloth and stroke pattern. All of this will help keep your Sterling Silver jewelry looking brilliant for years to come.



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