HOW TO CLEAN SILVER JEWELRY
Sterling Silver is one of the most popular metals used for not only jewelry items such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings but also other items such as teapots, cutlery, and tableware.
This article will answer the following questions:
- What can I use to clean sterling silver?
- How to clean 925 silver jewelry?
- What’s the best way to clean sterling silver? And more...
Like most things in life sterling silver jewelry and silverware need to be maintained otherwise it begins to tarnish if left out in the environment. Fortunately, maintaining silver can be simple. All you need is information to understand the nature of silver and a few tricks to care for and a few tips to clean and make it shine.
Our ultimate guide on How To Make Sterling Silver Shine will provide you with all the information you need. We’ll have you wearing all those forgotten beautiful silver jewelry pieces in no time!
INFORMATION ABOUT STERLING SILVER JEWELRY
To help you understand silver and how to take care of jewelry, its good to know the basic jewelry industry terms. The purity of the precious metal determines how soft or malleable the silver is and how quickly it will tarnish:
Silver is usually stamped with either 950 or 925. Pure silver is very soft and malleable and needs to be combined with other metals to make it harder so the jewelry made with it will be durable, so hardness has to be introduced, by adding other metals such as copper. The stamp markings mean the 950 silver is a purer sterling silver that will bend more easily so extra care should be taken. Sterling Silver consists of 92.5% silver, and the remaining part consists of mostly copper. This is the reason why Sterling Silver is popularly referred to as 925 Sterling Silver or just 925 Silver.
WHY DOES SILVER TARNISH AND GO BLACK?
You don't take care of your jewelry by just putting it in some jewelry box, it will discolor, or black marks will appear. This tarnish is caused by oxidization. This is when the air and other environmental factors such as oxygen or sulfur come in contact with silver, they bond to the surface and copper and cause the silver to be discolored and tarnished. Some jewelry and silverware have intentional oxidization for unique jewelry design purposes and to highlight patterns and details or to give the silver jewelry design an antique effect by using sulfur. If this is the case keep these 925 silver aside for separate cleaning. They must be cleaned in a different way without excessive cleaning and polishing so the details are lost.
MAINTAINING YOUR 925 STERLING SILVER
AVOID EXPOSURE TO CHEMICALS: Remove jewelry before doing household chores, sunbathing, doing strenuous once finished put them back on. Avoid contact with household chemicals, chlorinated water, and anything that contains sulfur, eg, eggs, onions. Also, avoid wearing jewelry when applying beauty products such as perfume, lotions, hairspray, and hair products the chemicals in these products encourage tarnish, discoloration, and corrosion.
WEAR YOUR JEWELRY: If you can wear your jewelry often, the oils in your skin will keep those fabulous sterling silver earrings of yours clean and shiny.
STORE YOUR JEWELRY CORRECTLY: As mentioned before exposing your silver jewelry and silverware to certain environmental factors and chemicals causes it to tarnish.
If you store your silver in sealed plastic bags with anti-tarnish strips prevents this and is a great preventative measure. Store jewelry individually as multiple pieces in one bag can rub and scratch each other as silver is a soft metal.
Chain link necklaces or chain bracelets should be kept unclasped to prevent scratching as well. Place an ANTI- TARNISH item into the plastic bag such as place a piece of chalk, a packet of activated charcoal, or a container of silica.
HOW TO CLEAN SILVER JEWELRY AT HOME
Avoid the hazards of commercial jewelry cleaning solutions by making your own economically and environmentally friendly silver cleaner using ingredients from your kitchen cupboard for the best way to clean silver DIY.
Please note that silver cleaners are not for all types of silver jewelry. Care should be taken when cleaning different types of jewelry. Always consider the piece of jewelry or silverware before cleaning it. Jewelry with gemstones, the types of gemstones, and the hardness of gemstones are all factors to be considered before cleaning your silver jewelry ay home.
For example, pearl jewelry or opaque gemstone such as turquoise, opal, carnelian, onyx could be damaged if the wrong method of cleaning is used as these are softer more fragile stones.
Also take care with clear harder gemstone jewelry (e.g. blue topaz, amethyst, garnet), when using a silver cleaner. The chemicals could lodge under the gemstone settings or loosen any glue. After using any cleaning solutions, rinse your silver with running water or with a clean, damp cloth. Afterward, dry the pieces with a microfiber cloth to prevent white water spot stains from forming.
POLISHING SILVER- THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE: If the tarnish isn't bad then just hand polishing your silver jewelry or silverware is sufficient. This is also a great method for intentionally oxidized pieces as you have more control, as you can stay away from these darkened areas. You can buy a commercial silver cloth to polish, but a soft piece of flannel sheet, microfiber, or any other nonabrasive cloth will do. Make sure you do not use paper towels or tissues as they contain fibers that can scratch the silver.
HOW TO POLISH: Use long back-and-forth motions NOT in a circle motion, as this can make tiny scratches worse. Also, keep moving to a different section of your cloth regularly to avoid smearing tarnish back on the silver. Take care of silver-plated jewelry and items, as polishing too much can remove the plating making them worse with the underlining metal being exposed.
DIY SILVER CLEANER AT HOME
Soap and water: For lightly tarnished jewelry you can use warm water and a mild, ammonia- and phosphate-free dishwashing soap should be your first line of defense if the polishing cloth fails to remove tarnish. Soap and water should also be used to clean your pieces before using any of the methods listed below.
Baking soda and water: Instead of commercial silver polishes and dips, make a paste of a tablespoon of baking soda and cold water and use a clean cloth to apply a small amount to the silverware or jewelry and polish. For the detailed areas of the piece, you are cleaning, thin out the paste with more water and use a soft toothbrush to get the cracks and crevices. After this, place the silver piece or pieces under running warm water, and then dry with a clean soft cloth. Do not use toothpaste as today's recipes are usually abrasive and can scratch the silver.
Olive oil and lemon juice: This is also a good way to clean silver at home. Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a bowl large enough to hold the cleaning solution and a small microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth in the solution and wring it out, then polish the silver, rinse, and dry.
White vinegar and baking soda: This is a great homemade cleaning solution to remove heavily tarnished items. Soak the tarnished silver piece in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of baking soda for two to three hours, then rinse and dry.
Baking soda, salt, boiling water, and aluminum foil: This simple chemical reaction helps to clean your silver. You’ll need baking soda, salt, and aluminum foil. Line a piece of aluminum foil, dull side facing down shiny side up on the bottom of a glass roasting pan or the kitchen sink. Place the silver jewelry on top of the aluminum foil. Pour boiling water over the pieces until they are covered and add 2 tablespoons each of baking soda and salt. Stir the solution to allow the baking soda and salt to fully dissolve. Then wait 5-10 minutes for the chemical reaction to occur.
This method causes the tarnish to transfer to the aluminum foil, you’ll see the tarnish magically disappear from the jewelry. After that use salad tongs or gloves (not rubber gloves, which contain sulfur), to remove the silver jewelry from the hot water or drain into a colander. Rinse the jewelry with water, then dry with a soft cloth and then polish with a soft cloth. That's it! your silver jewelry should be sparkling clean, shiny, and ready to wear. You can use any of these treatments in succession if you have stubborn tarnish.
WHAT ABOUT COMMERCIAL SILVER CLEANERS?
There are commercial silver polishes and dips available at supermarkets and they are easy to use when you follow the instructions. However, there are disadvantages such as the powerful chemical vapors that can cause physical damage if inhaled in an unventilated room. The powerful solvents in commercial silver cleaners require environmental awareness such as special hazardous waste disposal to avoid contaminating groundwater or causing other environmental harm. Also, the commercial silver cleaners can also actually remove the anti-tarnish coating making the pieces tarnish much more quickly and then have to be cleaned more frequently.
TIME FOR PROFESSIONAL CARE
If your jewelry pieces and silverware are heavily tarnished or fragile and you don’t have the time to clean them. Also, antique, vintage, or valuable pieces should also be cleaned by a professional jeweler or a professional silver cleaner.
Elevate Jewelry Co have a wide range of 925 silver jewelry for both Men and Women at discounted prices
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