A Simple Guide to Cleaning Silver Jewellery

'Moon and Back' Silver Ring Necklace

Is your silver jewellery looking more dull than dazzling?

If your once-shiny jewellery is now looking a little lacklustre – Fear not!  We have the lowdown on cleaning silver jewellery.

All about Silver

Silver jewellery is not actually 100% silver.  Most is 92.5% silver mixed with other metals, usually copper.  Silver is stable in oxygen and water. the surface tarnishes because of a reaction with sulphur compounds present in the air.  This reaction causes the formation of a black layer on the surface.

Occasionally a person with particularly moist skin may find that the sterling silver stains their skin green.  Plus, did you know that sometimes even the medicine that you’re taking can affect your jewellery?  Especially certain antibiotics.

Hammered Silver Bangle with added personalisation

How to prevent damage and tarnishing

Because silver naturally reacts with the air over time it’s normal for silver to tarnish.  All jewellery benefits from being worn as every time it’s handled the surface is being rubbed.  This removes the build up of oxidised silver and copper.

Ultra Violet light exposure can also damage silver, so its best to keep it out of direct sunlight when not being worn.  Ideally, silver jewellery should be kept in a box or soft pouch, as airtight as you can make it.  Small re-sealable plastic bags are good for this purpose (not a bin bag as these can contain sulphur compounds).

Do try to avoid any beauty products coming into contact wth your silver jewellery.  Always apply hair products and toiletries before putting on your jewellery as these are a common cause of damage or tarnishing.  Perfume sprayed onto silver bracelet is a sure fire way to cause it to tarnish!  It’s better not to wear jewellery in bed, swimming or showering either.

It’s a good to remove all jewellery when cleaning.  Some products – particularly those containing bleach – can damage silver.

Other materials that can speed up the tarnishing of silver jewellery include the natural oils in skin, rubber, wool and some paint due to the sulphide content.

First step – inspect your jewellery

Before you start cleaning, check your jewellery.  If you spot any damage, including a damaged mount or cracks in the gemstones – don’t clean it.  You may make things worse; instead seek advice from a jeweller.

Cleaning Silver Jewellery

When cleaning silver jewellery it’s recommended that you use a special silver polishing cloth regularly to prevent the tarnishing process.  A lint-free flannel, microfibre, or other soft nonabrasive cloth will do as well.  Do not use paper towels or tissues to polish your jewellery as they contain fibres that can scratch the silver.

If the item needs a bit more attention, you can use lukewarm soapy water and a soft brush.  Washing up liquid is better than soap.  Soap can stick to jewellery and this residue can leave it looking dull.  However, never submerge your silver jewellery in the water.

When polishing, use a different part of the cloth as it becomes blackened to avoid re-applying it back onto the silver.  Aim to move the cloth in the same direction of the grain.  Avoid circular movements as this will highlight small scratches.  Cotton buds can be used to clean tricky and more detailed parts of the item.

It’s not generally recommended to use chemical solutions to clean silver jewellery.  Silver polish and silver dip may cause silver jewellery to become more tarnished in the longer term.

Silver 'Tying the Knot' earrings

Love your jewellery

So in summary:

1. Store your jewellery with care.

2. Try not to get any other chemicals or products on it.

3. Make sure to remove tarnishing as it appears.

Treat your silver jewellery with love and you’ll be able to cherish it for years to come.

'Moon and Back' Silver Ring Necklace

Cleaning gold jewellery and gemstones

We hope you found this guide to cleaning silver jewellery useful.  If you want to know more about cleaning gold or precious gems, stay tuned.  We’ll shortly be posting about this too.

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More about Louise Biggs

Hello! I'm Louise - Social Media Administrator for Oh So Cherished. When I'm not Tweeting, Facebooking or Blogging I love a good chat, tea and cake (not necessarily in that order).

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