How to Care for Sterling Silver Jewelry
All sterling silver will tarnish over time. Follow these easy tips to maintain the quality of your silver jewelry.
The first topic we need to cover in our sterling silver buying guide is composition. This metal is an alloy of other metals combined together. For example, sterling silver is commonly rated as being 92.5% silver combined with 7.5% other metals. The reason for this is because pure silver is a soft metal which makes it more vulnerable to damages. When it is combined with stronger metals, such as copper, the durability is greatly improved. The matter of composition will often be clearly marked in jewelry with a number that says .925, but that number can be higher if the piece has more pure silver than copper. If you don't see this number on sterling silver jewelry, it may be plated in the metal with a different metal underneath, so make sure you find out the percentage of pure silver to other metals when considering composition.
Many people assume that tarnish is inevitable with sterling silver so they focus less attention on the care of these pieces. However, when cared for properly, the black tarnish associated with this metal can easily be avoided.
As with any type of jewelry, the way you care for it matters as much as the composition. Here are 7 easy tips for caring for sterling silver jewelry to make sure it stays beautiful for years to come!
- Avoid exposing the jewelry to pools, saunas, showers, or saltwater. Any type of water activity will cause the jewelry to become more vulnerable to damage. From chlorine found in pools and saltwater found in the ocean to the water and soap used in the shower, all of these elements can lead to tarnish.
- Store the pieces correctly. Aside from environments to avoid, the matter of storage is crucial to the life of your sterling silver jewelry. All jewelry should be placed in a designated place when not being worn such as a jewelry box or a jewelry pouch. Since oxidization is a big concern with this type of metal, make sure you store the box or pouch away from areas of moisture or heat to avoid any issues.
- Wear it often. While you may think the best way to protect your jewelry is to keep it tucked away, this isn't the case for sterling silver pieces. The more you wear the pieces, the better they will look. The gentle oils on the skin will work to polish and protect the piece to ensure a lasting beauty.
- Polish regularly. While wearing the jewelry can help it keep its luster, you still need to polish it regularly. Use a polishing cloth to avoid adding scratches to the soft surface.
- When polishing, make sure you work with the grain of the metal. This will not only help you avoid scratches, it will create a brighter overall luster. Make sure if you are working with a silver-plated piece, you are careful not to rub off the plating with overly vigorous polishing.
- Store pieces separately. While you may think storing all the same metal type together is no big deal, you want to store each piece individually. This will help reduce the oxidization element, reduce scratches, and prolong the beauty.
- Consider oxidization strips. These strips can be placed in the jewelry box to help reduce the tarnish over time.
Do you have specific questions that aren't answered here? Please read our jewelry guide