Silver jewellery is always a beautiful addition to any jewellery collection. It has grown in popularity over recent years due to the high cost of gold and the explosion of jewellery brands using it as their precious metal of choice.
However I am always suprised how few of us truly know how to look after our silver jewellery. So I thought I would share some of my experience gained over the years and give you an insight into my jewellery care regime.
First for the technical bit, apologies but bear with me! Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually cooper which reacts with the environment. The truth is all silver will tarnish when it comes into contact with air. Moisture, high humidity, air pollution and chemicals used in our daily life such as perfumes, deodorants and lotions will all react with silver and cause it to tarnish. Tarnishing can change the colour of your jewellery to give it a yellowish tinge or in severe cases brownish black in appearance. This does not mean that your silver jewellery is defective, quite the opposite, it proves that it is made from good quality silver.
However it does mean that we need to look after our jewellery in order to keep it looking its best. The best way to avoid your jewellery from tarnishing is by cleaning it regularly. So how regular is regular you ask? Well that very much depends on how and where it is stored, but I would check your jewellery every week for signs of tarnishing. Its much easier to deal with it in its early stages. For simple cleans I always use a good quality Silver Polishing cloth, as these have a built in, phosphate free detergent that cleans the silver when wiped over the surface. Polishing cloths are available from most good jewellery stores.
For more stubborn tarnishing and the bits where my cloth can’t reach, I carefully wash in warm water and gentle soap. Be sure to dry throughly with a non abrasive cloth before storing.
A quick word on silver dips here, I tend to avoid them as they must be used in the correct way. The rule of thumb is that if your silver has plated features or is set with gemstones do not use. Dips can remove colour and polish from your jewellery, especially pearls and more porous stones. If in doubt ask an expert.
If you have neglected your jewellery for some time and it is now resembling the black death rather than silver, don’t worry we have all been guilty of this, you may need to go down the professional route. In the past I have managed to revive some of my blackened jewellery with a polishing cloth and a lot of perseverance. However if you can’t face this, go to your jewellery store and they will be able to advise you. They will also have specialistic equipment to professionally clean jewellery.
My care kit, Silver Polishing Cloth, Small Plastic Zip Lock Bags & Silica Gel Packs.
This brings me on to the next crucial stage – storing your jewellery. Jewellery should not be stored in the box it arrived in. I know, I get it, the gift boxes look so pretty and alluring but they often contain chemicals that react with the silver and accelerate the tarnishing process. You should therefore remove your jewellery from the box and store in your jewellery box as soon as possible. I use a Steffans Stacker jewellery box so that if I need more space I can just add another layer.
The best way to prevent tarnishing is to store your jewellery in air tight bags. I use a small plastic ziplock bag for each piece of jewellery. Top tip here is to place your jewellery in the bag close the zip lock seal halfway and then squeeze the remaining air out of the bag before you completely seal the bag. I know its sounds like a pain…. but you know what they say, no pain, no gain!
If this is not your bag – literally, you can also buy specialist silver storage bags. You will need one for each piece of jewellery.
Once you have protected your jewellery you then need to store it in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. Another top tip, if you scatter a few silica gel packs in your jewellery box as these help to absorb moisture and prevent tarnishing. Also make sure you give your jewellery its space – stacking or bundling too many pieces together will cause scratching to the surface of the silver.
Finally, after all your good work we get to the fun bit….wearing your jewellery. There are just a few tips to keeping you jewellery looking its best when worn. Avoid chlorinated water, so swimming pools and jacuzzi are a bit of a no no. Also follow the golden rule, put your make up and perfume on first, your jewellery should always be the last thing you add.
If you follow these simple tips and make regular cleaning of your jewellery a habit you should keep it sparkling for a lifetime.