SEVEN WAYS TO MAKE YOUR STERLING SILVER JEWELRY SHINE
So you look down at your gorgeous ring that you received just a few months ago. The beautiful silver that used to shimmer in the light has started to look dull; it no longer sparkles or brings attention to your flawlessly manicured hands. The ring that used to make you feel fulfilled and brought a smile to your lips whenever you caught a glimpse is lifeless.
But have no fear! There are great ways to take care of your sterling silver jewelry at home that won’t break the bank, but will bring sparkle back to your favorite statement pieces. First, you must check off a few boxes about your jewelry so that you know how best to clean it.
Sterling silver has standards. To be considered sterling silver, the silver has a millesimal fineness of 925, which means that it is 92.5% pure silver, and 7.5% of other metals contained within your jewelry (all of the silver we use in our products is 925). The purity standard can usually be found on the jewelry itself. Look for a small stamp on the inside band of your ring, behind the designs or on a little tag near the clasp.
The oxidation is in the details. In some cases, you might own “oxidized” silver jewelry. Oxidation is basically a fancy word for darkening on the silver, often found in designs and precise detailing to make them stand out more against the silver (we call it "aged" but, you get the point). It is important to note that oxidized jewelry can lose the purposeful detailing with excessive cleaning of the jewelry. Identify any purposefully oxidized jewelry and set them aside to be cleaned differently.
Tarnish is a fact of life. Sterling silver jewelry will become tarnished, no matter what you do—and it is completely and totally normal! Once exposed to air, the 7.5% of other metals that were combined into your sterling silver jewelry will react to moisture in the air, causing the tarnishing reaction. Silver also will begin to tarnish faster in areas with high humidity and a larger contrast of air pollution. Chemicals can also speed up the tarnishing process. If your silver jewelry is often exposed to body lotion, perfume, hair spray, deodorant, or bleach, it is very likely that your silver jewelry will tarnish faster than someone who is not exposed to these types of chemicals. It is advised to keep your jewelry away from fruit juices, olives, and vinegar.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the different properties of your jewelry, it will be easier to avoid tarnish in the future. However, you’ll never be able to get away with tarnish-free jewelry—and that’s okay! We’ve tried and tested multiple ways to ensure that your jewelry is stealing the spotlight once again.
1) The proof is in the polish. If your tarnish is not too severe, it can be buffed out with a special silver cloth, or any nonabrasive cloth, such as the Sunshine Cloth. Since silver is such a pliable and soft metal, it is more likely to become scratched than other metals. With this in mind, it is important to not try and polish your silver with paper towels, tissues, or toilet paper to polish your jewelry.
When polishing, use long back and forth motions following along with the grain of your silver. If you rub in small circles, you will intensify, or magnify the minuscule scratches on your jewelry. While rubbing in back and forth motions, ensure that you move to separate sections of your cloth or you may end up putting the tarnish right back on to your jewelry!
Pro tip: For small detailed sections of your jewelry, rub off the tarnish with a Q-Tip.
2) A little elbow grease. It’s alright to return to the classics. Soap and water is a very effective cleaning method that can return your silver jewelry to its former splendor. In our opinion, the best soap to use when cleaning your silver jewelry is a phosphate-free dishwashing liquid, such as Dawn Dish Soap. Combine a cup of warm water with a few drops of dish soap and with a non-abrasive cleaning cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, buff out your jewelry with the same long back and forth strokes used to polish your jewelry. Take care when cleaning plated jewelry, as the constant motion can buff off all of the silver from your plate. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
3) Quick reversal. If your silver is a little too tarnished to polish, reverse the chemical reaction that creates tarnish. You’ll just need a shallow bowl, aluminum foil, boiling water, and baking soda. Just line the bottom of the bowl with aluminum foil, pour in enough boiling water to fill the bowl, and add 1 tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water to the bowl. Drop your silver jewelry onto the aluminum foil, ensuring that it is touching the aluminum foil. Leave for 10-20 minutes, depending on your level of tarnish. Simply leave it out to dry, and start flashing your jewelry again!
4) ‘Whiten’ your jewelry. While it sounds crazy, you can whiten your teeth with toothpaste—that’s a common fact—but you can also remove tarnish from your jewelry too! Just squeeze a little toothpaste onto your finger, rub it all over the piece of jewelry, rinse all of the toothpaste off and let it dry. You might need to repeat this process more than once for pieces with heavier tarnish, but do not be dissuaded! It might take a couple times, but your jewelry will emerge shiny and clean! Make sure that your toothpaste is not abrasive, or containing micro crystals for whitening as this can scratch your silver. Instead, try a children’s toothpaste, or a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
Pro tip: Toothpastes for tartar control contain more hydrated silica than other toothpastes, and will easily clean your jewelry!
5) Bubble, bubble, toil and…polish. Maybe you made a really cool volcano when you were in the 4th or 5th grade. Your teacher did some explaining about what created that reaction, but you were much more interested in the frothy foam that spilled out of the top of the volcano. The key ingredients of your grade school science experiment are also key in cleaning your silver jewelry. Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into a bowl, and add two tablespoons of baking soda. As the mixture froths up, pop in your silver jewelry and let it sit for two to three hours. Remove from the mixture, rinse, dry, and slip your shimmering jewelry on!
6) Add a little citrus. Lemon juice is a fantastic cleaner in all areas of the house—even your jewelry! Mix ½ cup of lemon juice with a teaspoon of olive oil in a little bowl. Grab a non-abrasive cloth (such as a microfiber cloth) and dip it into your solution. Wring out the cloth and polish your silver, using the same long back and forth motions as with polishing. Rinse your jewelry under warm water, and dry it with another non-abrasive cloth.
7) Leave it to the professionals. Sometimes, even before you’ve exhausted all other options, you need to leave your jewelry cleaning to the professionals. Your piece of jewelry might be an expensive heirloom or a piece of silver that just has too much tarnish to comfortably clean it on your own. In those cases, cleaning up your silver jewelry should be taken out of your hands, and put into the hands of the experts. Many jewelry stores offer cleaning services, as well as their own line of cleaning products to ensure your silver jewelry is around for decades to come. A simple google search should do the trick!
8) No matter which method you chose, cleaning your jewelry is a sure way to boost your confidence and draw all eyes in the room to you and your sparkling silver. Make sure you are extra careful around jewelry with open stones so they don't smell or break down due to chemicals.
If you didn’t have the best time cleaning your jewelry, consider these preventative tips to keep your silver tarnish-free for a longer period of time.
Do not wear your silver jewelry in the shower, hot tubs, or when swimming. Moisture and humidity can make your jewelry tarnish much faster
Store your sterling silver jewelry in a dry, cool, place when not wearing it. If you will be storing your silver for a while, it is a good idea to put a slip of anti-tarnish paper in a zippered bag with your jewelry to help delay the effects of tarnishing
Wear your jewelry often! One of the best ways to keep your sterling silver shiny and beautiful is to show it off!
Shop our collection of sterling silver jewelry here: kaijewelrystore.com