About Silver and Sterling Silver Jewelry
Silver Jewelry and accessories are a staple in many household jewelry collections and jewel boxes. As a woman’s most prized possession, the importance of jewelry in our life is unparalleled. Not only do precious metals make us look better, but they also induce a feeling of well-being and happiness.
Silver is a metal widely regarded for its versatile nature. It has a soft luster and is great for making jewelry. Silver jewelry is great to look at and its malleability and brilliant nature are the reason we have little trinkets, delicate anklets, sleek bangles and other gorgeous pieces made out of it.
Understanding your Silver Jewelry
There are different types of sterling silver jewelry according to the level of purity. The purity of silver determines how quickly it will tarnish. The higher the purity, the greater is its malleability and more is its chances to get tarnished.
As an example, .950 sterling silver will bend easily and tarnish at a faster rate than .925 sterling silver. A purer form of silver means that greater care needs to be taken when dealing with .950 sterling silver. Avoid buying something that has a purity of .950 instead go for something that has a purity of .925 or .900
Sterling silver with a purity of .925 is considered to be the best silver for making jewelry.
Some silver jewelry is made to undergo an oxidization process intentionally. This is done to darken it and make it stand out. However, this can result in loss of detail and such jewelry pieces should be cleaned separately.
What is Tarnish?
The thin layer of corrosion that quickly forms over your silver jewelry is known as tarnish. It results in the formation of a dark coating over the jewelry, making it look dull. The process of tarnishing typically occurs as a chemical reaction with hydrogen sulfide or sulfur present in the atmosphere.
To protect silver ornaments against tarnishing, they are often stored in spaces with less moisture content, but since most jewelry boxes and cabinets are not airtight, there is still some scope for the tarnishing process to occur, it just happens at a slower pace.
Preventive Measures to Protect Your Silver JewelryPrevention is always better than cure. You can follow the following measures to protect your Sterling silver jewelry against tarnishes:
- Since silver is a fragile element as compared to most other metals, it should be kept away from certain items and materials, some of which are - Household chemicals, chlorinated water, rubber, substances containing sulfur-like latex, wool, eggs, mustard, hairspray, lotions, perfumes, etc...
- Direct sunlight can also damage your sterling silver jewelry. It causes silver to tarnish, so be sure to take them off before you go out for long exposures to direct sunlight.
- Wearing your silver jewelry is one of the best ways to protect it against tarnishes. The oils secreted by our skin can help to keep the jewelry clean and maintain its luster.
- Storage is an important factor to consider when dealing with sterling silver jewelry that you wish to last long. Since even slight exposure to air has a contribution to the tarnishing of silver, such jewelry should preferably be stored in airtight containers or pouches to prevent exposure to moisture. Leaving a piece of chalk or activated carbon inside the containers will further prevent tarnishing.
- Try to keep your ornaments separate as silver tends to leave scratch marks even on friction with itself.
Polishing Your Silver Jewelry
Polishing is an effective and simple way to get rid of the dirt and grime of your sterling silver jewelry if the grime accumulated on it is not too severe. It is also a great way to deal with oxidized silver.
Since silver is a soft element, you need to take great care when polishing it. Everything from the material used for polishing to your hand movement and ornament handling is of great importance.
5 Ways to Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry at Home
Sometimes, polishing your sterling silver jewelry just doesn't work. This is when you should try one of these 5 proven ways to clean your silver jewelry at home:
1. SOAP AND WATER
Soap and water make the perfect and the easiest combination to try when cleaning your sterling silver jewelry at home. A mild, ammonia and phosphate-free soap coupled with warm water should be your go-to recipe to rid your jewelry of tarnishes before looking at other methods on this list.
2. BAKING SODA AND ALUMINIUM FOIL
Things you'll need -
A bowl or any vessel of a size that you need for the items you are de-tarnishing, Aluminum foil, Boiling water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda for each cup of water, A dry cleaning cloth or sponge.
Add boiling water and baking soda to a vessel or bowl layered with aluminum foil. Remove it after around 3 minutes.
Now rinse under cool water and rub dry with a soft cloth or sponge.
This process causes a chemical reaction that removes tarnish from the silver within moments by transferring it to the aluminum foil.
3. OLIVE OIL AND LEMON JUICE
Olive oil and lemon juice are great ingredients for a healthier lifestyle. But guess what else they are great for? Yes! Cleaning your sterling silver jewelry.
Make a mixture of 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 tsp. olive oil in a large bowl that is enough to hold the cleaning solution and a small soft cloth. Dip the cloth in the solution use it to polish your silver ornaments, rinse with water and dry them.
4. BAKING SODA AND WATER
A Non-whitening, non-gel toothpaste is said to be great substitutes for commercial silver cleaners that can be very harsh for your jewelry. But such basic kinds of toothpaste are extremely hard to obtain these days. There is always a risk of getting your hands on a falsely advertised toothpaste and ruining your silver jewelry.
Instead, it is better to make a paste of baking soda and water. Using a clean and soft cloth, apply a little amount of this mix to the silver for polishing it. Once thoroughly applied, rinse the silver pieces under running warm water, and wipe them clean.
5. WHITE VINEGAR AND BAKING SODA
The combination of white vinegar and baking soda acts as a gentle cleanser to remove heavy tarnish from your silver jewelry. To make it work, soak the tarnished piece in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp baking soda. Let it sit for around three hours, then rinse it and dry.
Sterling silver jewelry can last you many years if it is properly taken care of. This valuable metal does not necessarily need professionals for maintenance unless the tarnish is beyond self-care.