Silver Jewellery – Care and Cleaning

925 Silver Earrings

The use of silver for jewellery is becoming increasingly more fashionable and more popular all the time. Although it is still a precious metal and its value is increasing, it is much more affordable than gold, which has reached record prices in the global markets this year.  Wearing too much gold can look vulgar whereas wearing various silver pieces at the same time can look rather classy and stylish without being brash.

One of the drawbacks of silver though is its tendency to tarnish quickly, so you need to look after your silver pieces carefully and if you do,  they will serve you well and remain looking good for many years to come.

Why does silver tarnish?

Firstly, it’s important to note that tarnishing is caused by a natural process called oxidation and it does not indicate that the silver content is below standard or “not real silver”, or that the article is in any way inferior.  Oxidation is the interaction between oxygen molecules and all the different substances they may come into contact with – substances in the air or other materials such as wood, rubber or even foods containing natural sulphides (eggs, onions) can turn silver to yellow or black.

Some people have skin that is more acidic than others, and that alone can cause sterling silver to tarnish almost immediately.  Those people are best advised to look for silver items that have been plated with rhodium, gold or an anti-tarnish coating on top of the silver.

What’s the best way to care for 925 silver jewellery?

 Both silver and silver plated jewellery need a certain amount of care to preserve their longevity and keep them looking their best.

1)                Commonsense dictates that you should always remove your jewellery before washing up or swimming, and at night before bed.  Always keep jewellery away from sunlight, radiators and other heat sources.

2)                 Make it a habit to always apply your makeup and perfume before putting on your jewellery and allow it to dry on your skin first.  Cosmetics and perfume contain acids which can have a detrimental effect on silver and cause it to tarnish faster.

3)                 Keep your silver jewellery separate from your other pieces.  Never heap all your jewellery in one box that allows your silver items to nudge alongside gemstone items which can easily scratch the surface of the silver. It is a good idea to store each piece in its own little pouch or jewellery back, or wrap it in cotton cloth.

4)                 Always remove your jewellery after use and wipe it over with a soft pure cotton cloth to remove any skin oil or cosmetic residue.

What’s the best way to clean 925 silver jewellery?

 If you feel your jewellery needs a bit of “sprucing up” simply washing it with a mild detergent will often do the trick.  If you do this fairly often, it can prevent or delay the build up of tarnish.

1)                 Use a polythene washing up bowl filled with warm water and a drop or two of mild (phosphate free) washing up liquid and create a lather with your hand.

2)                 Immerse your jewellery in the water for no more than 5 minutes.

3)                 Remove each piece one at a time and wipe with a soft sponge to remove any traces of grime, and place on a soft towel.  Use a soft bristled brush to gently loosen any dirt trapped in crevices.

4)                 Rinse each piece separately in cold water and dry with a soft pure cotton cloth before storing away carefully.

How to remove tarnish and polish silver jewellery

 A lot of people use silver dips to remove tarnish.  They do work – the difference between before and after can be amazing – but the danger is that if you leave the jewellery in the chemical for too long, it can strip off the silver.  You need to be extremely careful if you use it with silver plated jewellery as it may strip off the plating altogether.

If you trawl the internet for advice you will find all sorts of suggestions, often conflicting, on how to deal with tarnished silver items.  Many suggest the use of baking soda or toothpaste, both of which are mildly abrasive and may cause scratching of the silver surface.

Washing your jewellery (as described above) after each wearing will probably prevent it from tarnishing, but if the item does become discoloured or badly tarnished, use a silver polish or silver polishing cloth specially designed for the purpose.  Please be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

I found a silver torque bangle today in my jewellery drawer that I hadn’t worn for years.  It was so badly tarnished it was black!  I recently bought a “Town Talk”  silver polishing cloth on Ebay for £1.25 and the packet contained  two sachets of moist tissues.  I rubbed the tissue over the bangle for about three minutes, and then used the polishing cloth, and the bangle was gleaming like new in no time at all.

Make sure you only buy products designed for jewellery, not cutlery.

Silver plated jewellery

 Silver plated jewellery can be cared for in exactly the same way as for 925 silver, so follow the above advice but be extra careful if using silver dip, or silver polish, as overpolishing and removing tarnish can also remove much of the plating over time.

Avoid scrubbing plated jewellery.  It is important to keep the plating on the base metal for as long as possible, as once it has worn off the only remedy is re-plating or stop wearing it altogether. Base metals can react with natural skin oils and cause the skin to turn a greenish hue.

Store silver plated jewellery in anti-tarnish cloth jewellery bags, and make sure they are in a low humidity environment.

gold plated silver and emerald earrings

Now that you understand all about caring for silver and how easy it is, why not indulge in some silver jewellery from ?



Posted on September 2, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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