Everything You Need to Know About Caring For Your Sterling Silver

Whether it's that special silver gift you got for your birthday or your everyday jewellery, sterling silver usually makes an appearance in everyone's collections. You may wear it all the time or just bring it out for special occasions, but overtime everyone has questioned how best to care for their sterling silver. How do you stop it from tarnishing? Why does it tarnish? And how do I clean it?!

We’re here to help and tell you everything you need to know about how to keep your sterling silver looking gorgeous and brand new. 

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver is a fine silver alloyed with copper, it is 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other metals, usually copper, which is often why sterling silver jewellery is referred to as silver 925. Silver on it's own is very soft and can dent, scratch or bend out of shape easily. The other metal alloys makes it more durable and suitable for jewellery.

However, that element of copper is also what causes jewellery to tarnish - which is completely normal but is also unfortunately sterling silver's only downside. But even if your sterling silver does tarnish over time there are easy ways to bring it back to life and prevent it from happening again.

Why does Sterling Silver Tarnish?

If a piece of your sterling silver appears discoloured or darkened in certain areas this isn't a representation of the quality of the piece, but simply a normal result of its composition.

Over time the chemical reaction between the copper and oxygen or sulphur particles turns the jewellery brown or even black. These reactions are often caused by things in everyday life, such as sunlight, chlorinated water or excess moisture.

How to Prevent Sterling Silver from Tarnishing

1. Wear your jewellery - simply wearing your sterling silver regularly will help prevent tarnishing, as your skin's natural oils will help maintain the natural shine of the piece.

2. Put your jewellery on last - moisturisers, makeup, perfumes may help us look and feel our best, but these can all accelerate the tarnishing and corrosion of sterling silver, add your jewellery as the last step to keep it looking as good as you.

3. Store in a cool dry place - when not wearing your sterling silver ensure it is stored in a dry place out of direct sunlight. Luckily - our glass & cork bottles are a water & air tight way to keep your jewellery safe while putting it on display! Otherwise, a ziplock bag is an ideal place to keep your jewellery in. Although not the prettiest it will ensure your jewellery keeps its shine for longer.

4. Remove when wet - remember to take off your sterling silver when coming into contact with water, especially water with chemicals in it. Washing up, cleaning or swimming in chlorinated water will cause your jewellery to tarnish. By preventing it from coming into contact with moisture or chemicals for long periods of time will help combat that dreaded tarnish.

How to Clean Your Sterling Silver- the do’s and don'ts

Even if you follow every step to prevent your silver from tarnishing, the likelihood is, that overtime it still will tarnish. There are lots of easy ways to clean your sterling silver and restore it to brand new, but be careful as there are also a few myths surrounding how to clean it which could do more harm than good.

1. Use gentle microfibre or jewellery cleaning cloths and rub softly on the jewellery to bring back its natural shine. Be careful as polishing roughly could bend your delicate jewellery out of shape. Never use tissues, paper towels or toothbrushes as they could scratch the silver.

2. When polishing your sterling silver try to use back and forth motions to mirror the grain of the silver, rather than in circular motions which can highlight any scratches.

3. Never use harsh cleaners or chemicals to clean your sterling silver, even toothpaste, as it's a soft material and will be damaged easily.

Instead, use a very mild soap and some warm water or a simple mixture of olive oil and lemon juice (½ cup lemon juice to a teaspoon of olive oil) to remove light tarnishes and bring back the shine. If polishing doesn't work these mixtures should be your first port of call.

4. For heavier tarnishes mix together white vinegar and baking soda (½ cup white wine vinegar to 2 tablespoons of baking soda) and soak the jewellery for 2-3 hours.

5. If your jewellery has been neglected for a very long period with lots of discolouration, you might want to consider a professional clean although it may be more expensive. It’s a lot easier to prevent tarnishing rather than remove it, so as soon as you see the first signs of tarnish, give it a little polish to restore its natural shine, and make it look brand new once again.

Do you have any before and after tarnished + polished jewellery? We would love to see them! 

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