Cleaning and caring for your sterling silver jewelry and other sterling silver items.
First we would like to say, sterling silver is easy to care for if you follow a few simple steps, so don't be afraid to cover yourself in silver. You will love the look! In this article you will find easy ways to keep your sterling silver clean with a minimum amount of time and effort.
1- STORING YOUR STERLING SILVER JEWELRY
Storing your sterling silver in the open air and humidity for extended periods of time can cause it to tarnish quickly. Tarnish first appears as a golden hue on your sterling silver then quickly turns to black. This is a normal process that is caused by oxidization and moisture from air and believe it or not sunshine. To keep tarnish to a minimum it is advised that you store your jewelry pieces when not wearing them.
To reduce tarnish and keep your pieces tarnish free for months at a time, it is recommended that you keep your sterling silver jewelry in an air-tight protective bag made of tarnish proof cloth or you can use a plastic zip lock bag made of Mylar (turkey cooking bags) or polyethylene. Be warned that some plastic contains sulfur compounds which can cause your jewelry to tarnish faster or stain. Never use polyvinyl plastic bags. We store and ship our jewelry in tiny zip-lock bags that are perfect for this. I have found zip-lock bags work well for storing your sterling silver jewelry in and most jewelers store their sterling silver jewelry this way as well.
Sterling silver, stored properly, can be worn often and with minimal cleaning required, making it very easy to care for and lots of fun to wear.
Although your jewelry is scratch resistant it isn't scratch proof, so we recommend that you store your jewelry so that it isn't rubbing up against other articles, like in a loose drawer or jewelry box. Also, when storing remember that exposing it to air promotes tarnishing, so use the zip lock bags to protect from scratches and tarnish.
Avoid storing your sterling silver jewelry directly on wood surfaces, because wood usually contains acids that can mar the finish. Oak seems to be the worst for this. Also, avoid storing your sterling silver with other metals, like pennies, and rubber, these too cause tarnish and damage.
2- CLEANING YOUR STERLING SILVER JEWELRY
Types of cleaners to use:
For light cleanings: To remove light dirt, fingerprints or makeup just use a small amount of mild liquid detergent to a 1/2 cup of warm water and rinse thoroughly with clean fresh water. (Remember, be careful because too harsh of a cleanser could damage the polish on the stones.) Dry it completely before storing it in an air tight zip lock bag. Then just polish it up with a soft cotton cloth, an old cotton t-shirt works well. Do not use the polishing cloth on your gemstones! The best use of the polishing cloth is to remove light scratches from regular wear and tear. It is great for that! You would be surprised how quick it can return the shine.
Should you have a great deal of tarnish and need more cleaning than a polishing cloth can do, you will probably have to do a deeper cleaning using a silver paste cleaner or a silver polish spray. Be careful silver paste cleaners can damage gemstones like turquoise, so be sure to try and keep it off of your gemstones when cleaning your sterling silver.
Long term care of your jewelry adds to the life of the piece:
Unfortunately, everything changes with time, use and wear. I need only to look in the mirror to be reminded of that fact. Your sterling silver or beaded gemstone jewelry is no different. There are several things we recommend doing to help prolong the life of your jewelry.
Keep them clean. It is much easier to remove tarnish and soil when it is minimal. If you allow your jewelry to turn black with tarnish, it may damage the metal. The longer you go between cleanings the harder it is to restore it to it's original luster. So best to keep it clean with a polishing cloth and to store in an air tight back, such as a zip-lock bag, to keep tarnish down. Or better yet wear them, this helps keep tarnish down. See the care and cleaning section above.
Always remove your jewelry before using any product that contains bleach, ammonia, alcohol, fingernail polish removers that contain acetone, and turpentine. Some of these can cause a breakdown in the metal alloys leaving the your jewelry beyond repair and dull or even pit the surface of your gemstones.
Clean before storing and store in the proper manner. See instructions on storing above. Avoid storing your sterling silver jewelry directly on wood surfaces, because wood usually contains acids that can mar the finish. Do not place in a card board box or on paper as they have sulfur producing compounds in them that increase the rate of oxidation.
Keep tarnish to a minimum by storing properly and cleaning before they get overly tarnished. When your jewelry needs to be cleaned follow the recommend cleaning methods above.
Check for loose stones or parts and have them repaired right away so as not to loose any stones or parts. With normal wear and tear, stones may loosen over time. If a stone rocks in its setting you will need to tighten the bezel around the stone to prevent loss of your precious gemstones. You can usually tighten these yourself, if you use special care. The back of a spoon works well to run it a long the bezel to press it down on the gemstone and tighten it again. It is always advisable to consult a local jeweler to tighten the bezel to be on the safe side and doesn't cost hardly anything.
Please keep in mind that detergents and lotions can slowly erode finish off your gemstones and cause your stones to become dull. Keep your sterling silver and precious gemstones away from chlorine bleach and all household cleaners. These will cause damage to the silver and stones. I always remove my jewelry before swimming and washing dishes. Sterling silver is not difficult to take care of if you just follow a few simple precautions. If your stones should dull see your local jeweler about having them re-polished.
Just follow these simple rules: Take it off when cleaning up, avoid strong chemicals, hairspray, makeup etc. and if you plan to play rough, you might want to put it up. Jewelry is meant to be worn. Your body oils will slow the tarnishing process.