The Best Tips for Taking Care of Sterling Silver Jewelry

By Pierre Sanchez

If you love accessorizing your wardrobe with sterling silver jewelry or if you only wear it on occasion, you have probably wondered what are the best ways to take care of and clean your sterling silver pieces. Well, in that case, we here at AeraVida have compiled a few helpful tips on how to keep your sterling silver jewelry looking its best.

Sterling silver is a metal alloy that is normally made up of 92.5% pure silver, with the other 7.5% consisting of other metals. A popular metal because it is both affordable and malleable, sterling silver is used for many things. But there is a downside with silver, it tends to tarnish or darken over time. The reason being a chemical reaction between the metal and oxygen or sulfur particles in the air. Tarnished silver looks as if it is dirty and it no longer has it’s shine. So, if your jewelry is not what it used to be, there is a way to restore it back to its original glory. It simply needs to be cleaned and with a few easy-to-follow steps, you can keep your sterling silver jewelry looking its best for years to come!

Knowing what’s harmful to your sterling silver jewelry is the best way to combat tarnish. For your daily wearing, here are a few things you should consider:

  1. Wear your jewelry often. There are natural oils in your skin that will help keep silver jewelry shiny. By wearing your silver often instead of letting it sit in a jewelry box unworn, you can help prevent the pieces from tarnishing.
  2. Remove your jewelry when doing the household chores. There are chemicals in household cleaners which may contain additional sulfur. Also, chlorinated water, perspiration, and rubber will accelerate corrosion and tarnish. It’s best to remove sterling silver completely before cleaning.
  3. Before you hit the beach or pool, be sure to remove your silver jewelry. Sunlight can cause silver to tarnish.
  4. When getting ready for the day, make sure to put your jewelry on last. The reason being lotions, makeup, hair spray, and perfume will accelerate tarnishing.

Keeping your jewelry clean is a great way to prevent it from tarnishing. There are countless methods for cleaning your silver jewelry, but here are the best methods that we have found. These tried and true methods can be easily done at home.

  1. Use soap and water to clean your jewelry. This is our most recommended method because of the gentleness of soap and water. This should really be your first line of defense before trying anything else.
  2. Use a baking soda and water solution. In the past, toothpaste was a viable option for cleaning silver jewelry, but times have changed. Toothpaste today contain more ingredients, such as whitening chemicals, which may damage your silver. If you come across suggestions to use toothpaste, we don’t recommend that tip. Instead, make a paste from equal parts baking soda and water and then apply a small amount to a cloth or toothbrush and scrub gently.
  3. Soak your jewelry in a solution of white vinegar and baking soda. This gentle cleaning method is great for removing heavy tarnish. Submerge your sterling silver in a solution of a ½ cup of white vinegar with 2 tablespoons of baking soda for two to three hours. It’s a good idea to do this in a sink because it will fizzle and foam. After, rinse the jewelry and pat dry.

After you’ve given your jewelry a good cleaning, you can finish the process by using a polishing cloth that’s specifically made for sterling silver. If there is a lot of tarnish, you can repeat this process as often as needed.

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Remember, the key to keeping your sterling silver tarnish free is to regularly clean it. Removing tarnish as it builds is the key. Your job becomes exponentially harder if you allow tarnishing to build up. There are other methods out there that you may come across, but we recommend these three because of how gentle they are on your silver jewelry.

Storing your silver jewelry properly when not in use will also combat tarnishing. Here are some useful tips to help you store your pieces correctly.

  1. Use an air-tight container to store your sterling silver. Zip-lock bags are great, but you can also find specialty jewelry bags for a more attractive option.
  2. Keep sterling silver in a cool and dark place. Remember that sunlight, heat, and moisture accelerate tarnishing.
  3. Store your pieces separately because this prevents any chance of jewelry scratching or tangling with each other.
  4. Consider using anti-tarnish strips with your jewelry to help prevent tarnishing.

Do not store in paper, cardboard, or cotton-filled boxes: these boxes may contain traces of sulfur which will contribute to tarnishing.

There are a few other things you may try when looking for ways to prevent your sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing.

  1. If you throw a few pieces of chalk in with your sterling silver, the chalk will absorb the moisture and help prevent tarnishing.
  2. When you buy new clothes or shoes, sometimes you'll find silica packs in with them. Hold onto these and toss them in your jewelry box. They're great for absorbing moisture!
  3. Lining your jewelry box with anti-tarnish cloths is a great idea. These cloths absorb sulfur and moisture from the air and are usually chemically treated to prevent tarnish.

All in all, keeping your sterling silver clean comes down to maintaining a balance of regular at-home care with preventive measures. Remember that it’s easier to prevent tarnish than it is to remove it after it occurs. If you see tarnish beginning to form, be sure to clean it immediately. Following these steps will help keep your sterling silver looking like new for years to come!