Monday, January 21, 2008

How to Care for Your Sterling Silver Jewelry

Clean, untarnished sterling silver has a brilliance and shine that reflects light and enhances the beauty of any piece of jewelry. Gemstones look especially gorgeous when coupled with this shining metal. If you are at all like me, I don't like to have to clean my jewelry before wearing. I would like to share the quickest, easiest methods I have found to keep your silver jewelry shining, and cause the least amount of abrasion to your jewelry.

Tarnish on silver is caused by oxidation. The simplest explanation is that the metal becomes dull when exposed to air.  Using silver polish or a polishing cloth will actually scrub away at the surface of your metal, removing a layer of the silver.  Silver polish is also difficult to remove from small detailed areas of your jewelry.

One of the easiest methods is to keep your silver closed in seal able plastic bags. This is not the most convenient way to store your jewelry pieces, I know, but it is the best way. No-tarnish strips can be purchased at a jewelry supply company and will give add protection from oxidation if they are kept with your jewelry. Change these strips every couple of months for best results.

Probably easier to find would be chalk, basic chalkboard chalk. This can be used in place of the no-tarnish strips and will give you the same benefits. Basically the chalk absorbs any airborne substances that will tarnish your silver. Also change the chalk every couple of months.

Another method you can try is to line a glass baking dish with aluminum foil; place your sterling silver wire or jewelry pieces on the foil and cover it with a thin sprinkling of baking soda; add boiling hot water to cover the wire or jewelry; use a wooden chopstick or other non-metal utensil to gently stir the items around a bit so they all have contact with the aluminum foil at one time or another; when satisfied, remove the items and rinse thoroughly under tepid running water; pat items dry. For more stubborn tarnish you can also assist the cleaning process by using a soft toothbrush during the rinse process.

This method is not recommended to clean pieces that contain pearls, soft stones that have not been polished professionally, like turquoise, ivory, opals, or any precious stone that may have enhancements or treatments such as wax or oils, often used on sapphires, rubies and emeralds!

Another important rule about silver, and your fine jewelry in general, is to keep it away from harsh household chemicals such as bleach or chlorine.

I hope this information is helpful to all those silver lovers out there, like myself.

(These techniques are being shared from two articles, one by Rena Klingenberg, and the other by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong)

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