Jewelry Care 101
Like anything you wear from day to day, it’s normal to experience dirty jewelry or tarnishing. It has to do with your body chemistry, sweat and environment. If you want to get the most out of your jewelry; taking care and cleaning is key to keeping your jewelry looking new! The good thing is it’s easy to clean!
Most high end silver jewelry is Sterling silver. Sterling silver is a type of metal that is an alloy- mixed with other metals. Sterling silver has 92.5% silver mixed with either 7.5% copper or another type of metal (nickel or zinc typically). What makes Sterling silver tarnish is the other metals present within it. Sterling silver is a more common metal in jewelry compared to Fine Silver that has more silver in it (99.9% silver). Fine Silver is harder to work with since it is soft. Therefore when mixed with other metals it’s easier to make jewelry with and in turn is more durable. I exclusively use Sterling silver.
How to clean Sterling Silver Jewelry- Prevention is key!
Tarnishing and discoloration is common with jewelry over time. It’s a natural process that is due to daily wear and the environment. Overtime Sterling silver jewelry and most any type of metal jewelry tarnishes and loses it’s original luster. This is due to the natural oxidation process and metal coming into contact with other chemicals from environmental to your own body chemistry. Sterling silver has other alloy metals which make it tarnish faster than Fine Silver.
When it comes to keeping your jewelry tarnish free- the most effective way is wearing it. Wearing Sterling silver pieces daily and more often usually helps avoid tarnishing, but this can vary if you happen to have a reaction to specific metals. Pieces should be taken off before swimming in pools due to chemicals or when showering ideally. When silver pieces sit out they tend to tarnish faster being out in the open. So it’s a good idea to keep jewelry in a enclosed environment, like a jewelry box where it’s away from open air and moisture.
Soap and Water
A great affordable and effective option for cleaning your jewelry is simply using soap and water. Use warm (not hot) water with a mild dish soap that is phosphate-free. Let your piece soak in the water for 15-20 minutes. A soft bristle toothbrush comes in handy to get in between small crevices and hard to reach areas. Place your piece in warm water to help remove the soap residue and pat dry with a soft cloth.
Baking Soda and Water
If you find soap and warm water isn’t doing the trick, another option is creating a paste with water and baking soda. You can apply a small amount to a clean non-abrasive cloth to polish the silver and a soft bristle toothbrush to get to hard to reach spots.
We recommend buying a jewelry cleaner for Sterling silver jewelry. These can be found at bigger stores like Walgreens, CVS or Target. It can also be purchased online. The cleaners are great for a quick dip to clean any dull looking jewelry. I’d recommend using a soft bristle toothbrush or some type of soft cloth with the cleaner to get any hard to clean spots. These types of cleaners will remove natural and intentional oxidation though so make sure you only do this to pieces that are exclusively silver. Using a cleaner like this periodically will help maintain your jewelry’s original luster. Cleaner though may leave a residue if not washed off.
There are specially made polishing cloths for jewelry. These polishing cloths contain a compound that is applied when it comes into contact with metal. They are a soft cotton cloth, micro-abrasive; great for all types of metal. If you don’t have a polishing cloth, the next best thing is a microfiber or non-abrasive cloth. Avoid using abrasive materials like paper towels, as they could scratch the surface. When using the cloth follow the natural grain of the silver to avoid highlighting scratches. A polishing cloth though may change the finish of the metal if there is a specific texture.
Sterling Silver with Oxidation
Oxidation is the natural process that happens to metal when exposed to oxygen in the air. It is usually a longer process that jewelry like a Sterling silver piece will tarnish and become discolored. Pieces and chains that appear black or smoky are oxidized. This is an intentional process to create a particular patina or finish. Oxidized jewelry is a surface treatment that speeds up the oxidation process to create the black, grey or smoky finish.
Cleaning Oxidized Jewelry
When it comes to cleaning oxidized jewelry, it should be cleaned differently than plain Sterling silver. Using a silver cleaner or polishing cloth on a Sterling silver piece will remove any oxidation. It’s best to use warm (not hot) soapy water, let your piece sit in the water for about 15-20 minutes, wash off any soapy residue and pat dry. You can gently wipe it with a soft cloth/towel, but be careful not to rub too hard, because it will remove the oxidation. You want to avoid using any abrasive materials or rubbing oxidized areas because they will most likely affect the look and/or remove it.
If you try some of these cleaning solutions and still can’t get your jewelry back to it’s original luster and quality, I’m happy to take it and polish it for you. You only have to pay for shipping. If you received a piece and there is something wrong with it please refer to the repairs and returns page or contact me directly by email. I’d be more than happy to help with any issues. I want you to love your jewelry!