How to clean and care for sterling silver jewellery
What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Silver by itself is generally too soft to be used practically, so a small proportion of copper is typically added to increase the strength yet still preserving the appearance of the precious metal.
What does 925 Sterling Silver mean?
As you may have guessed, 925 refers to the proportion of silver within the alloy. So for example, for every 1000 parts, 92.5% consists of fine silver and the remaining 7.5% consists of copper. As 92.5% of 1000 is 925, that’s what the naming of 925 Sterling Silver means.
Why does Sterling Silver tarnish?
Tarnishing is a natural process that occurs to sterling silver when it becomes exposed to air. Usually it’s the copper component reacting to moisture or sulphur particles in the air, that causes the alloy to tarnish and take on this dull grey, shadowy, discoloured look (no one wants this!) Sterling silver tends to tarnish faster in areas with high humidity and air pollution and chemicals such as soaps, shampoos, deodorants, perfumes etc can speed up the tarnishing process too.
How do I clean and care for my sterling silver jewellery?
The best way to keep your silver clean is by wearing it often. Otherwise if it’s a piece you wear on a rotational basis, you can purchase some sterling silver spray or cream or a polishing cloth from a jewellery shop to clean your jewellery. Be careful when using and read the instructions! Usually most products, require just a little bit of soft fabric (maybe some old pyjamas), a little bit of product, a soft rub on your jewellery, a quick rinse with water and ZING! Your sterling silver jewellery is back to it’s shiny shiny self.
When you’re using a silver polishing cloth, use long back and forth motions whilst you’re cleaning the surface. Also occasionally rotate to a different section of the polishing cloth to avoid re-rubbing the tarnish back onto the surface. Try not to use circular rubbing motions, as this may magnify any existing scratches in the surface.
Also, if you’re planning to go swimming or being a good adult and doing some household chores and using some cleaning chemicals, remember to remove your sterling silver jewellery as these can speed up the tarnishing effect. Also, lotions, perfumes, cosmetics can increase tarnishing as well, so remember to always put your jewellery on last as the final touch!
Where should I store my sterling silver jewellery?
Sterling silver is a relatively soft metal, so it’s important to try and store your jewellery separately from other pieces to avoid scratches. If you have a soft pouch, that has a mini divide inside, if it’s a necklace, pop the chain on one side and the pendant on the other side, so the chain doesn’t rub against the pendant and so forth with your other pieces of jewellery.
Otherwise, storing your jewellery inside a ziplock bag with a piece of anti-tarnish strip will also work well too.
Loved this practical guide? Share this guide with your friends and your fabulous tips in the comments below! x