It’s no secret that sterling silver is a popular material for jewelry. Since real silver is too delicate to turn into jewelry, producers mix it with something else. When you mix silver with zinc or nickel, you get silver alloy.
If you have a vast jewelry collection, you may already have some sterling silver pieces. Some coat sterling silver over less valuable metals.
But some of your jewelry pieces may be prone to tarnishing.
Does sterling silver tarnish? In this article, we give you an in-depth guide to taking care of your silver. Read on to discover how to clean sterling silver jewelry.
Does Sterling Silver Tarnish
Metals go through a chemical process called oxidation once exposed to air. This process causes erosion on various metals, like rust on steel and tarnishes on silver. On sterling silver, tarnish may appear as a black or yellow tint.
Pure silver present in sterling silver may not react as fast at room temperature. But copper makes chemical reactions easy with the sulfur and salt in the air.
You may also have sterling silver platters or other kitchenware. Tarnishes may appear brown. It may also appear as spots of discoloration.
So does sterling silver tarnish? Yes, it does.
How Long Before Sterling Silver Tarnishes
Sterling silver may tarnish at different rates. The speed of tarnishing may depend on the amount of exposure it experiences. Your skin’s natural oils may speed up the oxidation process.
Sometimes, silver sterling can tarnish faster if exposed to cosmetics or detergents. There is no exact time measurement for how long silver sterling takes to corrode. But in a controlled environment, you can make your silver jewelry last longer.
Silver may show signs of oxidation in a few months without proper care. But with the right preventative steps, your sterling silver can last for years.
Know When to Put It on and Take It Off
Knowing when to wear your sterling silver and when to take it off is part of maintenance. Before you go out, apply your makeup and perfume first. Save your silver accessories for last.
Sterling silver should be the first thing you take off before a shower or any other activity. This helps you prevent it from making contact with chemicals or sweat. Are you looking for new jewelry to add to your collection?
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Consider Your Environment
Wearing your jewelry often can help you avoid tarnish. But remember to consider your environment when wearing sterling silver. Some household items can cause tarnish and corrosion.
Some items that can cause tarnish include household chemicals, chlorinated water, and rubber. Some items with sulfur can also speed up the oxidation process. This includes eggs, onions, wool, mustard, latex, and mayonnaise.
Take off your jewelry before doing household chores. Avoid exposing your jewelry to direct sunlight. Before swimming or sunbathing, be sure to take off your silver jewelry.
How to Store Your Sterling Silver
Store your sterling silver items in an airtight plastic bag. Adding anti-tarnish strips can give your silver some extra life. Avoid storing multiple pieces together.
Silver is a soft metal and is prone to scratching. Storing several accessories together can decrease the longevity of your jewelry. If you have link or chain bracelets, keep them unhooked or unclasped.
If you don’t have plastic bags, ensure your storage area has low humidity. A piece of chalk can help minimize tarnish. You may also use a packet of activated charcoal or silica gel.
Avoid Using Solution
When cleaning silver sterling, avoid using a solution. Using a solution to clean and polish your silver jewelry can introduce serious drawbacks. Silver cleaners can harm your silver.
The solution can remove valuable patine and anti-tarnish coating. While it may give your jewelry a temporary shine, it makes your silver tarnish faster. When you remove the protective surface, you decrease the longevity of your silver.
Commercial silver polishes have fatal vapors. Disposing of these cleaners may be less friendly for the environment.
Powerful solutions need special hazardous waste disposal. To avoid contaminating groundwater in your area, you may need to hire a specialist.
How to Polish Sterling Silver
When polishing silver, use a special silver cloth. You may also use microfiber, a lint-free flannel, or any soft non-abrasive cloth. Avoid using paper towels and tissues that could scratch your silver.
Use repetitive back-and-forth motions to clean your silver. Try following the grain of your silver jewelry. Rubbing in a circular motion may magnify any present scratches.
Don’t rub with the same section of your cloth.
Flip your polishing cloth often to avoid returning tarnish to the silver. For small areas, you can use a q-tip.
Some silver plated items may be less easy to polish. Polishing often can remove the protective coating and plating.
Use Home Remedies for Cleaning
How do you clean sterling silver jewelry? If you want to clean sterling silver, you can try various home remedies. These cleaners are economical and easy to make.
Try some of the following home cleaning remedies.
Soap and Water
Mix warm water and mild dishwashing soap. Find soap that is free of ammonia and phosphate. You may also do this before any of the following cleaning methods.
Baking Soda and Water
Combine baking soda and water to make a paste. With a clean cloth, apply a small amount of the paste to the silver. For items with engravings, stamps, or other small details, use more water.
White Vinegar and Baking Soda
You can use this method to remove heavy tarnish. Combine 1/2 cup of white vinegar and two tablespoons of baking soda. Soak your jewelry in this solution for two to three hours then rinse.
Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
Combine one teaspoon of olive oil and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in a large bowl. Dip your cloth into the bowl and wring it out so it’s only damp. Polish, rinse, and dry.
Here’s How to Maintain Your Sterling Silver
Does sterling silver tarnish? It does, but with these methods, you can keep your jewelry for years!
For more tips jewelry maintenance tips, we’ve got you covered. Don’t hesitate to check out our other blog posts to learn how to take care of your jewelry!