How To Care For Your Sterling Silver Jewelry
Silver in its pure form is too soft for jewelry or any other use. Objects identified as silver, sterling silver, solid silver or sterling has to contain 92.5 percent pure silver according to federal standards, this is why you will see the .925 stamp on sterling silver pieces. The small amount of other metals, usually copper, helps make the alloy strong enough to mold into a piece of jewelry. Usually sterling silver contains copper for strength, and this is the reason your sterling silver jewelry pieces tarnish, unless proper storing and cleaning practices are put forth.
Storing Sterling Silver Jewelry
Specially treated bags and cloths are available for the storing of sterling silver jewelry to prevent tarnishing. Other products like jewelry boxes are also available to keep the jewelry from making contact with air which reacts to the copper content and causes the discoloration. Sterling silver jewelry that is worn frequently will resist tarnish if it is rinsed and dried regularly.
Careful storage is most necessary for pieces that are rarely worn. Frequent wearing will also develop a patina that will give an aged but not tarnished look. However if you like this patina, be careful with the sterling silver jewelry that is developing it, because cleaning will actually remove it.
Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry
Their are products available to clean sterling silver, however the most important aspect to look for is non-abrasive cleaner, as sterling silver can scratch, and you want to avoid scratches on your jewelry. By avoiding scratches, it is important to use a soft cloth, such as microfiber, or one that is specifically designed for jewelry.
Never use paper towel or toilet paper to clean your sterling silver! Also avoid letting your sterling silver jewelry make contact with a metal sink as this can also cause scratching. If you are using a polish, make sure it hasn’t dried up since it will become abrasive.
Always remove your jewelry before the shower, soaking in the tub, and especially in a pool, hot tub, or while swimming in the lake or ocean. The water that we are exposed to, if not purified, contains chemicals that can easily damage your silver.
Tarnish is easiest to remove when it is just starting. The longer it tarnishes, the darker it becomes and the more difficult it is to remove.
Old sterling silver jewelry may show a purplish color even after cleaning. This is called firestain and occurs because of processes no longer used to make sterling silver. If it shows up, don’t try to remove it. Firestain is a part of the piece and cannot be removed. Trying to clean it away can damage your sterling silver jewelry.
Fine sterling silver jewelry is an investment, it adds to your personal style and can spice up even the most casual wardrobe. Also, it can be passed down generations. If you take care to store it properly and clean it, according to directions, you will be doing your best to protect your beautiful investment.