To maintain the pristine condition of valuable jewelry over an extended period, regular maintenance is essential. In order to maximize the longevity of your jewelry, it's important to learn the correct method of cleaning sterling silver.
Inadequate maintenance can result in a loss of shine or discoloration in even the most luxurious sterling silver jewelry as a result of exposure to oxygen or sulfur. Tarnishing can occur as a result of this. To maintain the pristine condition of your jewelry, it's essential to understand the proper techniques for caring for your sterling silver.
To care for your jewelry in the most effective way, it's important to understand the various types of sterling silver. The level of purity of the metal determines how rapidly the silver will tarnish. For instance, .950 sterling silver is more malleable and prone to tarnishing at a quicker pace than .925 sterling silver. Consequently, a higher level of care is required for .950 sterling silver due to its greater purity. It's worth noting that 99.9% of sterling silver jewelry is .925 sterling silver. Additionally, some silver jewelry undergoes a deliberate oxidizing process, which is not uncommon.
The term "0.925 sterling silver" indicates that the metal is 92.5% pure silver, while the remaining 7.5% can be any other metal. Copper is the most commonly used alloy in this case due to centuries of experimentation that have shown it to be silver's ideal companion without altering its stunning color. Sterling silver typically has about 7.5% copper in it, making it stronger than pure 99.9% silver (which is uncommon) but also more susceptible to tarnishing. Copper is the primary cause of tarnish on sterling silver jewelry.
Here's a quick guide on how to clean your silver jewelry in just a few minutes.
One of the best ways to prevent sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing is by wearing it.
Your skin's oils can actually help to keep the jewelry clean and maintain its brilliance.
How to Clean Silver Jewelry with Dish Soap
To clean silver jewelry using dish soap, start by mixing a few drops of liquid dish soap into warm water until bubbles form. Soak the jewelry in the solution for five to ten minutes. Next, use a soft-bristle brush such as a toothbrush to clean any crevices and then rinse the jewelry in warm water. To dry the jewelry, gently rub it with a silver cloth or a microfiber towel, avoiding paper towels as they can scratch the silver. If your fine silver jewelry contains precious gems such as diamonds, it may be possible to clean it with soap and water. However, it's best to consult with a jeweler or have the piece professionally cleaned to ensure its safety.
How to Clean Sterling Silver with Baking Soda
To clean silver jewelry, you can use baking soda and water. If soap doesn't work, mix water with baking soda to make a paste. Apply a pea-sized amount of the paste to a clean cloth to polish the silver. For detailed jewelry, add more water to make a thinner paste and use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean crevices. After polishing, rinse the item under warm water before drying it with a clean cloth.
Lemon juice and olive oil
Another option is to use lemon juice and olive oil. Mix 1/2 cup of lemon juice with a teaspoon of olive oil in a large bowl. Dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and wring it out before polishing the silver. Rinse it under warm water and dry it with a clean cloth.
Baking Soda and White Vinegar
If the tarnish is heavy, you can try using baking soda and white vinegar. Soak the jewelry in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp. baking soda for two to three hours.
Baking Soda, Salt, Boiling Water, and Aluminum Foil
For tougher tarnish, use a solution of baking soda, salt, boiling water, and aluminum foil. Line a kitchen sink or glass roasting pan with aluminum foil and place the jewelry on top. Pour boiling water over the jewelry until covered and add 2 tbsp. each of salt and baking soda. Stir to dissolve the baking soda and let the jewelry soak for 5 to 10 minutes. The tarnish will transfer to the aluminum foil. Rinse the jewelry in warm water and dry it with a clean cloth. Note that the solution may have a strong odor.