We all have some pieces of sterling silver in our jewelry boxes that are dark and gross looking right? I pulled a few of mine out just to show you (pictured below).
There's absolutely nothing wrong with these pieces. It's natural for the metal to do this. What I find very interesting is why this happens, which I'm going to tell you about in today's blog post. Along with how to clean it off and best storage practices.
So there's a bit of science to this.
Sterling silver is an alloy which means it is made up of a mix of metals. This is because pure silver is very soft and not ideal for jewelry. So it is usually mixed with copper to make it harder and more durable. Typically it is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper which is why you see sterling silver pieces stamped with 925. Stamping is legally required when space permits. The copper in the piece has a natural reaction to moisture and sulfur in the air causing the surface to tarnish.
Caring and cleaning sterling silver jewelry is very easy. A mild abrasive or silver jewelry cleaner which is sold all over will remove the tarnish. Just apply a small amount of cleaner to a soft cloth; gently rub and rinse with warm water when finished. Make sure to dry the piece off. This will remove the oxidation which has built up on the surface and restore it to it's original shine.
DO NOT use toothpaste or bleach to clean sterling silver
DO NOT use paper towels to apply the cleaner - they can scratch the surface of the silver
I used this polish which I picked up at a jewelry supply store a while back. I think it was around $6-7 dollars and it's going to last me years. And I used a piece of 100% cotton fabric.
Storing sterling silver properly will cut down on how much you have to clean it. Like I said before, its reacting to the moisture in the air. So airtight containers which protect the piece from moisture, sunlight, humidity and pollution are perfect. Also, it's important to put your sterling silver jewelry on last, after hairspray, perfume, lotion, etc. Because these things speed up the oxidation process.
Caring for sterling silver jewelry is really quite simple and the tarnish really shouldn't deter you from purchasing it. It is a very affordable metal compared to gold and platinum. If stored properly and with regular cleaning, a piece of sterling silver will last a lifetime and beyond. Seriously, it will last centuries.
Do you have any specific questions about sterling silver.
Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll talk about it!
Also be sure to check out the new F/W Collection which features sterling silver!
Owner, Designer, Maker
Hammer & Heart Heirlooms