Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Crafty Tip: Cleaning Silver Jewellery

Many people ask me how to take care of their silver jewellery.

When you first purchase an item of silver jewellery, it has a beautiful shine, but in time silver tarnishes, turning a golden hue and then eventually, black. In time silver tarnishes from the interaction of silver and sulfides in the air. This is a natural process. Higher sulfide levels are associated with humidity and/or air pollution. Keep in mind that the more humid the climate, the faster sterling will tarnish.

So what is the best way to keep that silver shine? There are two main methods:

(1) Sterling silver will polish up by rubbing or buffing it with a soft cotton cloth. You can buy chemically treated cloths which work a little faster.

(2) Sterling silver dips are fast and easy. But, be careful to read the small print before putting any piece of silver in a dip. Many dips will take the color and polish off gemstones and pearls. Also, when using a dip, if you leave the piece in too long, or don't rinse it well enough with fresh water, white residues will be left on the piece when it dries. The residue is difficult to rub or pick off.

When using a silver dip, dip the piece quickly in and out of the dip. Then immediately rinse it in clean water. When the piece dries, buff it with a soft cotton cloth. The buffing brings out more of the shine, helps take off any residue left on the piece. A dip should only be used when a buffing with a dry cloth does not work.

The simplest way is usually the best way. Get a clean, soft cloth and polish your silver. It will be beautiful again!

Once you've used some elbow grease to obtain the perfect shine, you will want to keep it for as long as possible. Storing your silver carefully will help preserve that shine!

Use a jewellery box with many compartments for storing silver jewellery items separately. Each piece of silver jewellery should be kept in its own box or pouch. It should not be stored together, or with any other types of fine jewellery; gems scratch and damage silver jewelry. Silver chains should be laid flat or hung up, to avoid knotting and tangling.

While you are cleaning the house, it’s wise to take off all your silver items. Some cleaning chemicals, including ammonia and chlorine, may discolor, damage, or cause a film to form on your silver and dull its appearance. Also, when you go to bed or play sports, remove your jewellery to avoid kinking, scratching, and breaking.

Taking these steps will allow you to enjoy your jewellery year after year!


Cat said...

Wouldn't it be nice to have a butler like in the old times (I am thinking "Upstairs, downstairs" here, who remembers Hudson? :-D) to do the muscle work? ;-) Thanks for the tips!

Mary V said...

That is a great series of tips, Alison, very helpful! As you say, tarnish is caused by exposure to air and humidity. For this reason, I often advise customers buying silver items to store them in small ziplock bags when not wearing them, excluding as much air as possible. I keep most of my own silver pieces that are for sale, such as rosary beads, in an anti-tarnish ziplock bag.