How to Take Care of Your Sterling Silver Jewelry
I love the beauty of sterling silver jewelry – it has such a downtown cool girl edge to it, and it’s such a classic. Part of the appeal of sterling silver jewelry is that it never really goes out of style. Plus, it’s affordable – and it is super long lasting with the proper care. Here’s what you need to know to keep your sterling silver jewelry looking 💯
What is sterling silver?
Sterling silver jewelry (aka sterling silver 925) is a mixture, or an alloy, of metals that has at least 92.5% silver (hence the 925) and 7.5% other metals, most commonly copper. You see sterling silver more often than pure silver jewelry because of its beauty and durability. Pure silver is a super soft metal, so it’s not great for everyday wear – it’s just too malleable and easy to bend out of shape.
By alloying the pure silver with harder metals like copper, you get the luster and shine of silver without the durability problems. But – the tradeoff is that the other metals, like copper, oxidize in the air (meaning that they take up the oxygen that’s naturally in the air) and build up a layer of tarnish over time.
What is tarnish, and why does sterling silver jewelry tarnish over time?
Tarnish is what happens when sterling silver is exposed to air over time – it’s a layer of build up that happens when the copper in sterling silver jewelry reacts with oxygen in the air. The copper can also react with the acids in your skin or in sweat, or with the chemicals in lotions, hairsprays, deodorants, shampoos, or perfumes – all of this can speed tarnishing of your sterling silver jewelry. Medications you may be taking, especially certain antibiotics, can also cause your sterling silver jewelry to blacken or discolor.
We coat our sterling silver jewelry with a layer of rhodium (an inert metal in the platinum family) in order to give it a little bit of armor against tarnishing. Though tarnishing is inevitable for sterling silver jewelry, you can totally clean the tarnish off and make your jewelry good as new.
How should I store my sterling silver jewelry?
The easiest way to delay tarnishing of your sterling silver jewelry is storing it properly.
The easiest and cheapest way to store your sterling silver pieces is in a small Ziploc bag (like the ones we ship our jewelry in). Place your sterling silver jewelry in a small Ziploc and seal all the air out. This quick hack slows tarnishing – and it doesn’t break the bank in the process. Alternatively, you can also purchase anti-tarnish bags to store your jewelry in.
Basically, you’ll want to keep your sterling silver jewelry away from sunlight and in a cool, dry place. You can store your jewelry with anti-tarnishing strips to slow the tarnishing process, or you can even use those little silica packs that you get when you get a new pair of shoes – these help keep moisture away from your jewelry
Oh, and before storing your sterling silver jewelry away, clean it with a soft dry cloth. Keeping your jewelry clean will help delay tarnishing.
My sterling silver jewelry already has tarnish on it 😱. How can I clean it?
Not to worry - you can clean off tarnish and make your jewelry look as good as new. When it comes time to clean your sterling silver, mix warm water with a mild soap in a bowl, and let your jewelry soak for a few minutes. Dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth.
Polishing is another effective option for restoring your sterling silver’s luster. Here are some polishing tips:
- Use a non-abrasive cloth to prevent scratching.
- Move to a new section of the cloth frequently.
- Follow the grain of the silver.