Are you worrying that your favorite GlowCent sterling silver jewelry will begin to tarnish? You know how disheartening it can be. Your once beautiful piece will become dull and lifeless. It’s hard not to be crazy about sterling silver jewelry. Between its luster, its brilliance, and its versatility, it’s easy to see why silver is one of the most popular materials for jewelry. Still, many of us find ourselves neglecting all the beautiful silver pieces in our jewelry boxes for one simple, annoying reason: tarnish. When oxygen or sulfur come in contact with silver, they chemically bond to its surface and cause the silver to appear dirty or discolored. Who wants that?
At GlowCent, we have put together a list to answer all of your questions about caring for silver jewelry and keep it glamorous as new, always. From daily wearing tips to cleaning instructions, you’ll find it all right here! Luckily, with the right care, it's easy to get your jewelry looking shiny and gorgeous again in no time. Fortunately, caring for silver and reducing tarnish is as simple as doing the dishes. All you need is to arm yourself with a few facts about the metal and a few tips and tricks for care and cleaning. With this ultimate guide, you’ll leave ready to start wearing your fabulous silver again with all its shine!
Why is it necessary to clean your Sterling Silver jewelry?
Tarnish is a fact of life. Sterling silver jewelry will become tarnished, no matter what you do—and it is completely and totally normal! Sterling silver is an alloyed metal, normally made of 92.5% pure silver and other metals. Sterling silver is a popular metal because of its affordability and malleability, but it also tarnishes quickly because of its composition. If you’re looking at a piece of jewelry that is darkened or appears dirty, then your silver has tarnished; but, there’s no need to neglect this piece or get rid of it! Tarnish is simply the result of a chemical reaction with oxygen or sulfur particles in the air. With a few easy-to-follow tips, you can take care of your sterling silver jewelry and make it last for years to come!
One great way to keep your jewelry, from your favorite sterling silver ring that you wear daily to the necklace you save for special occasions, is by polishing it. A soft polishing cloth is a great way to fight the first signs of tarnish and clean away fingerprints and other blemishes. You can purchase a cleaning cloth designed specifically for polishing silver from any jewelry store or most department stores. If you don't have a silver polishing cloth, you can use a lint-free or microfiber cloth to clean your silver pieces. Avoid using rough materials, paper towels, or tissues. While they may feel soft to the touch, they contain abrasive fibers that can scratch your jewelry. If you polish your jewelry often, tarnish won't have a chance to take hold and get worse. If you don't polish often, you'll have to resort to other tips on this list to keep your sterling silver jewelry shining and looking great. Simply polishing your silver works well when the tarnishing is not too severe. It’s also the best method for cleaning oxidized silver, as you can stay away from the intentionally tarnished areas. Pro tip: For small detailed sections of your jewelry, rub off the tarnish with a Q-Tip.
WASH YOUR JEWELRY
If you don't wear your sterling silver ring or other jewelry daily, you might not notice when tarnish starts to show. If tarnish has started on your favorite pieces, don't worry. With the right care, it's easy to reverse the signs of tarnish and get your pieces shiny again in no time. The first thing you should do to get rid of tarnish is to wash your jewelry. Warm water and a mild dishwashing soap can get rid of mild cases of tarnish on silver jewelry. Just make sure that your soap is free of ammonia and phosphates before you let it near your silver. To slow down tarnishing, clean your silver jewelry after wearing it. Oils from your skin accumulate on the surface of silver and can predispose it to oxidization.
Soap and water: This is our most recommended method because of the gentleness of soap and water. This should be your first line of defense before trying anything else.
Baking soda and water: If you come across suggestions to use toothpaste, we highly recommend you ignore that tip and use baking soda and water instead. When toothpaste was simple non-whitening, non-gel-based pastes, they could be used on your jewelry. However, they include many more ingredients now that may damage your silver. Instead, make a paste from baking soda and water, apply a small amount onto a cloth or toothbrush and scrub gently.
White vinegar and baking soda: This gentle cleaning method is great for removing heavy tarnish. Soak your sterling silver in ½ cup of white vinegar and 2 tbsp of baking soda (combine these in the sink and prepare yourself for the fizzing and foam) for two to three hours. Rinse jewelry and pat dry.
Finish with a polish: After you’ve given your jewelry a good cleaning, you can finish the process by using a polishing cloth that’s specifically for sterling silver.
BE WARY OF COMMERCIAL CLEANER-
If polishing or soap and water aren't enough to get rid of tarnish on your silver jewelry, you may be tempted to try a commercial cleaner.
Commercial cleaners promise professional cleaning results that you can achieve at home. But while it is possible to get your pieces clean and shiny again with these products, they are difficult to use and easy to mess up. To start, many commercial cleaners contain chemicals that can become dangerous if not handled correctly. For instance, if your room isn't well ventilated, the vapors from the cleaner can be deadly. If you choose the wrong type of commercial cleaner or don't use it to the exact specifications of the product, you could also end up damaging your sterling silver ring or other jewelry.
USE A HOMEMADE CLEANING SOLUTION-
If you're wary of using professional commercial jewelry cleaners, but polishing and washing your pieces haven't been enough, you need an alternative. Homemade jewelry cleaners are a great way to get your jewelry looking great again. You can make your own cleaner using common household ingredients like baking soda, olive oil, vinegar, and more. If your jewelry contains more than just silver, such as gemstones, be careful using even natural, homemade cleaners, as these can damage your pieces.
If your pieces are heavily tarnished and you don’t have the time to clean them, take them to a professional silver cleaner. Very old, fragile, or valuable pieces should also be cleaned by a professional.
A little elbow grease-
It’s alright to return to the classics. Soap and water is a very effective cleaning method that can return your silver jewelry to its former splendor. In our opinion, the best soap to use when cleaning your silver jewelry is a phosphate-free dishwashing liquid, such as Dawn Dish Soap. Combine a cup of warm water with a few drops of dish soap and with a non-abrasive cleaning cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, buff out your jewelry with the same long back and forth strokes used to polish your jewelry. Take care when cleaning plated jewelry, as the constant motion can buff off all of the silver from your plate. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
If your silver is a little too tarnished to polish, reverse the chemical reaction that creates tarnish. You’ll just need a shallow bowl, aluminum foil, boiling water, and baking soda. Just line the bottom of the bowl with aluminum foil, pour in enough boiling water to fill the bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water to the bowl. Drop your silver jewelry onto the aluminum foil, ensuring that it is touching the aluminum foil. Leave for 10-20 minutes, depending on your level of tarnish. Simply leave it out to dry, and start flashing your jewelry again!
Add a little citrus-
Lemon juice is a fantastic cleaner in all areas of the house—even your jewelry! Mix ½ cup of lemon juice with a teaspoon of olive oil in a little bowl. Grab a non-abrasive cloth (such as a microfiber cloth) and dip it into your solution. Wring out the cloth and polish your silver, using the same long back and forth motions as with polishing. Rinse your jewelry under warm water, and dry it with another non-abrasive cloth.
PRODUCTS THAT HELP PREVENT TARNISH-
There are a few other things you may try when looking for ways to prevent your sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing.
Store jewelry with chalk: If you throw a few pieces of chalk in with your sterling silver, the chalk will absorb the moisture and help prevent tarnishing.
Use silica packs: When you buy new clothes or shoes, sometimes you’ll find silica packs in with them. Hold onto these and toss them in your jewelry box. They’re great for absorbing moisture!
Anti-tarnish cloths: Lining your jewelry box with anti-tarnish cloths is a great idea. These cloths absorb sulfur and moisture from the air and are usually chemically treated to prevent tarnish.
HOW TO PROPERLY STORE YOUR SILVER JEWELRY-
Use an air-tight container: any container can be used to store your silver, as long as it's air-tight. Zip-lock bags are great, but you can also find specialty jewelry bags as a more attractive option.
Keep in a cool, dark place: as mentioned earlier, sunlight, heat, and moisture accelerate tarnishing. Be sure to keep your silver in a cool, dark place.
Store pieces individually: storing your pieces separately prevents any chance of jewelry scratching or tangling with each other.
Consider anti-tarnish strips: you can throw in some anti-tarnish strips with your jewelry to help prevent tarnishing.
Do not store in paper, cardboard, or cotton-filled boxes: these boxes may contain traces of sulfur which will contribute to tarnishing.
No matter which method you chose, cleaning your jewelry is a sure way to boost your confidence and draw all eyes in the room to you and your sparkling silver. Make sure you are extra careful around jewelry with open stones so they don't smell or break down due to chemicals.
If you didn’t have the best time cleaning your jewelry, consider these preventative tips to keep your silver tarnish-free for a longer period of time.
Do not wear your silver jewelry in the shower, hot tubs, or when swimming. Moisture and humidity can make your jewelry tarnish much faster.
Store your sterling silver jewelry in a dry, cool, place when not wearing it. If you will be storing your silver for a while, it is a good idea to put a slip of anti-tarnish paper in a zippered bag with your jewelry to help delay the effects of tarnishing.
Wear your jewelry often! One of the best ways to keep your sterling silver shiny and beautiful is to show it off!
A fresh start for your jewelry-
Well-cared-for silver jewelry can give you many years of pleasure and enjoyment and even become family heirlooms. And, of course, silver is valuable. So don’t wait until tarnish has become so bad that you forget about your silver treasures or even get rid of them. A soft polishing cloth is a great way to fight the first signs of tarnish and clean away fingerprints and other blemishes. Whether you have a jewelry box full of beautiful pieces or just a single prized piece, taking care of your sterling silver jewelry can keep it looking great for years to come.
Don't have a sterling silver ring that you need to care for? Maybe it's time to treat yourself to something new! Shop our collection today to find your next prized piece!