Sterling silver is long loved for its versatility and pocket-friendly nature. When new jewelry pieces come with a fantastic luster that draws attention to them, however, that does get lost over time. Whether through oxygen, chemical exposure, one’s body oils, beauty products, humidity, and other factors, it is a known fact that silver will tarnish. That takes the form of a blackish coating over the metal.
Here, even with all these factors at play, let’s explore ways to keep your silver from tarnishing. Equally, we’ll look at how to clean and store your silver jewelry so you can get many long years of service from them. All the same, the good news is that, unlike rust, the corrosion only affects the top layer and not the metal underneath. Thus, it can get easily removed.
Keeping your silver from tarnishing isn’t a one-time thing; it is how you treat the jewelry daily, whether or not it’s on. Let’s look at what to avoid to maintain the luster, along with how to clean and store jewelry.
What to avoid
Whether you like it or not, tarnishing will take place. Let’s look at some everyday best practices to remember that will help slow down or prevent your silver from tarnishing at a rapid pace.
Keep your silver jewelry away from water: That means no showering or taking a swim with your jewelry.
- The shower gel and other toiletries do contain chemicals that affect the jewelry’s surface. What’s more, there are abrasive kinds of products such as scrubs that would leave scratch marks on the silver
- Chlorine in swimming pools notoriously causes tarnish on different kinds of metals, and silver is no different. The chemical reaction will cause the silver to dull at a faster pace.
- Exposing your jewelry to humidity is equally a problem. Therefore, don’t get into a hot tub or sauna with your jewelry on.
- The ocean or sea is quite salty, and it does contain other components bound to harm the silver. It’s, therefore, best to take these off before going for a swim, surf, or paddleboarding.
Keep your jewelry from chemicals: The surface of a ring reacts with products of varying pH. Remove your jewelry when:
- Doing household chores, since most detergents and cleaners, especially beach, contain harsh chemicals bound to react with your silver ring. Alternatively, remember to wear gloves over your rings.
- Outside chores are no exception. Soil, fertilizer, and the texture of the same can play a part in tarnishing.
- Take your jewelry when applying lotion or makeup. While it takes a while, these culprits and other beauty products play a role in your jewelry losing its luster.
- Remove your jewelry when working out. Sweat and our natural body oils equally play a part in affecting silver jewelry’s top layer.
- To further drive the point home, pools and other natural water bodies contain chemicals that affect silver.
- If you have a hands-on job, then you should take your ring off to avoid it coming into contact with whatever materials you’re using.
Cleaning your silver
Here are some ways to take care of your silver from tarnishing:
Anti-tarnishing clothes: If you’re in a hurry and want to give your jewelry a quick shine, anti-tarnishing cleaning cloths work superbly. They are excellent since they absorb oxygen and sulfur and act as a treatment on the silver to prevent it from tarnishing. You can use this after taking off your jewelry and right before you store it for your silver’s longevity.
Tip: whatever kind of suitable polishing cloth you get, avoid cleaning your jewelry in circular motions as it will make the dirt or tarnish worse.
Soap and water: Warm water mixed with mild dish detergent is the best mix to clean your jewelry. Based on the amount of tarnish, soak your jewelry in the solution for 5-10 minutes. After, you can use a super soft cloth or brush to remove the tarnished layer. Afterward, rinse with clean, warm water and dry well with a soft cloth.
Tip: Instead of scrubbing harder, use a Q-tip on delicate and hard-to-reach places. It is bound to get the job done.
Toothpaste: While not many will advocate for this method, you can equally use toothpaste to give your jewelry a quick shine. Put toothpaste on cotton wool or a soft cloth and polish the jewelry. After, rinse off and dry well. The concern with this method is that some toothpaste contains abrasive elements and can scratch the silver.
Storing your silver
There are specific ways of storing silver jewelry; let’s look at the top-recommended places to keep them.
Ziploc bags: These bags are the most basic way you can store your jewelry. However, the catch is ensuring you’ve squeezed out all the air before sealing. As mentioned, oxygen causes the surface of the jewelry to oxidize, meaning that the silver is likely to tarnish even in the bag- that’s what we want to avoid. However, if you have a lot of jewelry and don’t want a ton of Ziploc bags on your drawer, there are other alternatives.
Jewelry storage bags: There are quite a few types of silver-friendly storage bags that you can find online. They come in various sizes suitable for storing different jewelry. Remember to keep the jewelry separately to avoid scratching.
Add chalk or silica packs to storage bags: There will likely be moisture in the bags you use, especially with the Ziploc bags. Chalk is known to naturally absorb moisture and chemical remnants; adding chalk to the bag is a neat trick to keep your jewelry dry. The same goes for silica packs; you can find one in shoes, or clothing packaging, so don’t throw those out.
Tips for storage
Let’s look at other things to keep in mind when storing your items:
- Store your jewelry safely immediately after you take it off
- Store each jewelry in a separate bag. That’s to prevent various pieces from scratching each other and causing damage.
- Keep the jewelry out of direct sunlight and in a cool and dry environment
- Don’t store your jewelry in the bathroom even though it’s packaged well. The humidity will cause the silver to tarnish
- Don’t store your jewelry on a wooden surface or wooden jewelry box. That will speed up the tarnishing process, especially if the surface is chemically treated, stained, or varnished
- There are plenty of affordable storage options that you can find on websites such as Amazon. You don’t have to break the bank to keep your silver looking new.
Silver with tarnish over time; there’s nothing one can do to stop this natural process. It is, however, not all bad news since there are ways to reverse the tarnish. With the ideas provided, you can maintain the silver’s luster for years.
Even so, now and then, it’s best to take your silver to a jeweler, that’s especially if the silver has an intricate design.
We can’t always get to the nooks and crannies, but they can get the job done.
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Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.