Whether it's an elegant necklace, a dress up bangle, a stunning pair of earrings or a statement bracelet, we all have that favourite piece (or pieces) of jewellery that we want to keep looking brand new. Here in this guide, follow the tips and techniques to give the appearance that you are wearing brand new jewellery everyday, which will in turn keep those compliments raining in!
Tarnishing/discolouring and why it occurs
Tarnishing is inevitable with ALL Sterling Silver jewellery and has no reflection on the quality. There are many actions/factors which are usually unbeknown to the wearer which can accelerate tarnishing, and this is very inconvenient.
Tarnishing occurs when a jewellery piece is exposed to air and moisture and overtime this causes a dark coating to form (tarnish). Tarnish is actually the bi-product of a chemical reaction between the metal and the sulphur in the air.
Factors which will accelerate tarnishing/discolouration
Humidity & Moisture-
Copper found in Sterling Silver reacts with moisture on the skin or in the air, which in turn leads to discolouration and tarnishing. Inevitably it will be common in humid climates.
Physical contact with sulphur compounds-
Sulphur compounds are also responsible for Silver tarnishing. Avoid environments which are highly polluted. Take extra care when handling oil and foods which contain sulphur for example eggs, fish and shellfish.
Cosmetics & Make-up
Make up on the skin or even stained on clothing is an extremely common cause of blackening and smudging. Chemical compounds present in cosmetics are by comparison harder than the silver itself. These compounds rub off the tiniest particles of metal in the form of jet black dust.
Care points are as follows:-
- Storage - Store Sterling Silver jewellery in air tight plastic bag, preferably with anti tarnish strips.
- Always remove jewellery when applying beauty products, for example make-up/cosmetics, perfumes and hairsprays.
- Avoid submerging your jewellery. remove when showering and bathing. As chlorine is highly damaging, remove when using swimming pools.
- Remove when sleeping, cleaning and cooking. Rinse off any chemicals that may have come into contact.
For mild tarnishing, an effective method of removal is simply using a polishing cloth. Here are a few pointers when using a polishing cloth:-
- Use an actual silver polishing cloth - DO NOT use tissue paper or paper towels.
- Polish gently in the direction of the grain in the silver
- Do NOT polish in circles.
- Store polishing cloth in an airtight bag
- Always wash hands afterwards.
For medium level tarnishing, apply a silver cleaning liquid to the cloth. An excellent low cost recommendation is Goddards Silver Polish.
For more heavily tarnished Silver Jewellery try a soaking bath. The steps are as follows:-
- Line a glass roasting dish with tin foil, dull side down.
- Place Silver pieces on top of the foil.
- Pour boiling water over pieces so they are submerged and add two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda.
- Allow it to soak until the water is cool enough to touch (5-10 minutes)
- Dry Silver with a clean cloth.
ONLY PERFORM THIS METHOD WITH PLAIN SILVER JEWELLERY - (NO GEMSTONES ETC)
I hope the information given in this guide helps you in keeping your precious jewellery pieces looking sparkling new, so you get to enjoy their beauty for many years to come.
Best Wishes Gavin