When you receive a special jewellery gift from a loved one, you want to make sure you can wear it forever. Neglecting sterling silver jewellery can cause it to tarnish over time, giving it a discoloured, dirty-looking appearance that makes it unappealing to wear.
Fortunately, with a bit of TLC you can ensure that sterling silver keepsakes stay bright and sparkling and just as special as the day you received them.
Why does sterling silver tarnish?
Sterling silver is made up of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. The other metals, primarily copper, cause sterling silver to tarnish when they react with moisture and sulphur in the air. Silver will tarnish faster in areas that have high humidity and air pollution.
How can I prevent tarnishing?
There are several ways to prevent silver from tarnishing, and one of them is very easy – wear your jewellery! The oils in your skin will keep it looking nice and shiny. Avoid contact with substances and chemicals that cause corrosion, including:
- Household chemicals (bleach, vinegar, acetone)
- Chlorinated water
- Lotions, hairspray, and perfumes
- Things containing sulphur (mayonnaise, eggs, wool, latex, mustard)
Finally, store your silver items in airtight plastic bags in a cool, dark place that is away from direct sunlight. Keep pieces separately wrapped so they do not scratch each other, and unhook link or chain bracelets. To minimise tarnish, you can also place an anti tarnish strip in each zip lock bag and a piece of chalk, packet of activated charcoal, or container of silica gel in the storage area.
What can I do to get rid of tarnish?
If your jewellery or keepsake has already begun to tarnish, don’t panic! Simply polishing your item with a silver anti tarnish cloth should remove any build up. We recommend this method for cleaning any of our products that have intentionally oxidised (blackened) areas so you can take care not to erase any detail on your keepsake. Any soft, nonabrasive cloth will also do the trick, but avoid rubbing your jewellery with paper towels or tissues – silver is a soft metal and can scratch easily.
When you polish, use back and forth motions to mirror the grain of the silver rather than circular motions that may magnify any small scratches. Move the cloth as you clean to avoid placing tarnish back on the silver. Note that if you wear a silver charm on a bracelet or bangle daily it will show signs or wear and tear much more quickly than if the charm is worn on a necklace. To prevent this, especially on charm bracelets, we recommend using glass bead stoppers between the charms.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a friend or loved one, The Little Keepsake Company has a wide variety of handcrafted jewellery, personalised gifts, and unique sterling silver items that will delight any recipient. Visit our website to find your ideal keepsake.