Why does sterling silver tarnish?
Many of us wear sterling silver jewelry as a cheaper alternative to that of gold or real silver as these can be quite costly. The plus side of this cheaper alternative is that almost never lose its original color and shine, causing you to have it for years to come, which everyone wants. However, sterling silver can in fact become discolored and unattractive if one does a poor job of taking care of it. Many factors that you may not even realize, may be at play when it comes to your sterling silver jewelry losing its brilliant sheen. Exposure to varying chemicals, oxidization and air pollution are only a handful of some of these things that may cause the change from shiny to dull with your jewelry.
How to store your sterling silver jewelry
Knowing some of the above mentioned will better prepare you for the proper care of your sterling silver jewelry, which includes the ideal way of storing it. Ziploc bags are a lifesaver and can be used in so MANY ways! I’m willing to bet that more than half of you reading this was not aware that you could actually use a Ziploc bag to safeguard your jewelry. The method is really simple too. Simply put the jewelry in the bag, flatten it to remove the excess air, then seal the Ziploc bag. Voila, you have one convenient and easy, not to mention, safe proof way of storing your jewelry. Easy, right? It is important to note that the bag should be dry and free from any form of materials that may tarnish your jewelry.
Use Jewelry Bags; a better alternative to plastic bags
I know I am not the only one that hates clutter and tries my best to avoid it where it can. Exactly what may happen as a result of using the plastic bag method using the Ziploc or any other plastic bag to store your jewelry. For this method to be effective, your jewelry will need to be stored in its own individual bag. If you are like me, you have a lot of jewelry and is already envisioning the large pile of plastic bag stored jewelry in your box. The mere thought is enough to give you clutter nightmares. Luckily, you can avoid all of this with the use of jewelry bags made specifically for storing sterling silver jewelry to protect from oxidation.
Store your sterling silver away from sunlight
Prolonged, direct exposure to sunlight is bad for our skin, our hair and it is certainly bad for our jewelry. Keep your jewelry away from severe exposure to the sunlight, this may speed up the process of oxidization, and this goes without saying, but to preserve the lifetime of your jewelry, avoid whatever may leave scratch marks and other damages.
Keep your sterling silver away from wood
Remember some of the ways that were listed than can change your jewelry? One of those mentioned ways was chemical change. That means, no leaving your jewelry on surfaces that have been chemically treated. This means no wood surfaces, you know how much we love spraying these surfaces, so they look nice and shiny, the chemical in our spray will have a negative impact on our sterling silver and we certainly are trying to prevent that.
Store your sterling silver with chalk
Chalk! The mighty power of chalk! It has a great number of uses that we won’t even venture into today, maybe a different article, but the use we will go into, is how beneficial it is our jewelry. It’s also noteworthy to point out it is another inexpensive method of prolonging jewelry life. So, in those jewelry bags that you bought to store your sterling silver, go ahead and toss a piece of chalk in there. Here is another plus, it doesn’t have to be inside the plastic bags, you can go ahead and store it in your jewelry box as well. Win-win.
Use anti-tarnish strips
We want you to have as much alternatives to protecting your precious jewelry as is possible, so we went, and we dug up everything in our arsenal and we found anti-tarnish strips. These are 3M strips that prevent tarnishing of your jewelry by absorbing all the sulfides and other chemicals in the air that threaten your jewelry. Like chalk, you store it in one of your jewelry plastics.
Use silica packs
This is everyone has access to and probably have thrown them away at the first chance you get. Do you know those small packages you find on the inside of new shoes you purchased or ever a purchase? So many of you reading this have your mouths hanging open at this shock. Yes, these silica gel packs can be used to preserve your jewelry. How? Well, they work by removing the moisture in the air, so it keeps whatever it is packaged in dry. Dry jewelry is happy jewelry. Next time you make a purchase, save these tiny packages for storage inside your jewelry box.
Use anti-tarnish cloths
When you visit your local jeweler, chances are, you have seen them wiping a piece of jewelry with a cloth looking material. May I introduce the anti-tarnish cloth. They work similar to the chalk and silica gels in that they absorb the sulphur and excess moisture in the atmosphere. Works best if you wipe your jewelry after wearing it, and immediately before putting it into storage. Frequent usage is recommended.
Never leave silver jewelry lying around
After all the discussions about all the sulfur and moisture in the atmosphere that may cause your jewelry to tarnish, it goes without saying, but we are saying it anyway, NEVER leave your sterling silver out in the open. Utilize the methods mentioned above for storing your jewelry. Note, everything mentioned in previous paragraphs speaks about you keeping your jewelry away from exposure in any way possible. Chlorine, used to kill bacteria and germs in pools and Jacuzzis are the death of your jewelry. It is putting your jewelry in a direct exposure to the chemicals that we said NOT to expose it to.
How to clean sterling silver after it has been tarnished
If you were unfortunate enough not to catch this article in time to know all the ways of protecting your silver and it has already been damaged, no fear, there is still some semblance of hope for saving your jewelry. The easiest way to get rid of tarnish is by going to a jeweler as they have equipment that can be used to replenish your jewelry. If you would rather try your hand at the replenishing yourself, or if the damage is not that far gone for you to bring it to a jeweler, we have some other recommendations. Comparable to the anti-tarnish cloth is the polishing cloth that is made specifically for the cleaning of silver. There is also the option of a silver wash, which is you washing your silver in a hot, soapy water and using a toothbrush to clean the hard to reach areas. You must immediately dry the sterling silver with a clean, lint-free cloth to prevent spots from occurring.
Do not clean sterling silver with baking soda or toothpaste
Baking soda is a household cleaning god, so it is understandable that it is one of the recommended cleaning agents when it comes to repairing tarnish. It may be tempting to try, but, D-O-N-T. Have you felt how hard and grainy the baking soda is? Your sterling silver is delicate and will be damaged and scratched if you use baking soda to clean it. It would be tragic for you to use the baking soda to clean tarnish from your jewelry, only to have the tarnish replaced by scratch marks. The options on this list are cost-effective and proven. Be sure to try them out and give us your feedback.