Sterling silver is a precious metal that needs to be cared for just like your gold and platinum pieces. If cared for and stored appropriately, sterling silver can remain beautiful and lustrous for a lifetime and beyond. Many people, unfortunately misguided, don’t buy or wear much silver because silver tarnishes. What everyone should realize though is that silver is actually quite easy to care for and clean, and that tarnish should be no major deterrent.
Take good care of your sterling silver rings, charms, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings and they will provide you with years of aesthetic and ornamental pleasure. Many sterling silver treasures are passed down from generation to generation.
It is important to use a cotton cloth or similarly soft and non-abrasive material to clean your silver. Sterling silver, though durable, is a fairly soft metal that can be easily scratched if mistreated. Cloths for this purpose specifically are available commercially.
For light soiling, as with fingerprints and daily grime, it is recommended that you use a gentle, non-abrasive soap or detergent. A drop or two mixed in with a ½ cup of warm water works just fine. Dab your non-abrasive cloth into the mixture and clean as if you were polishing, taking care to be gentle around any stone encasements. Use a dry, non-abrasive cloth to continue the cleaning and polishing after washing. Make sure that the piece is thoroughly dry prior to storage.
For a more thorough cleaning, it is recommended that you choose one of the commercially available silver cleaning pastes. (Note: when you using such pastes on silver jewelry with gemstones take great care not to damage the gemstones—polishes dull stone finishes over time. Read paste directions carefully prior to using. )
You should clean your sterling silver pieces with a lengthwise motion as opposed to circular as this will reduce scratching (light scratching is inevitable but can be minimized). For those hard to reach places, inaccessible to your cloth, you may use a small, soft-bristled brush (similar to a toothbrush). Try to purchase one made commercially for this purpose. Be gentle nonetheless.
Some recommend toothpaste and baking soda as good choices for cleaning sterling silver, but these are often too abrasive and should not be used if can be avoided.
The first rule of storing your sterling silver jewelry (after cleaning or otherwise) is to never store it moist or wet (whether from perspiration or cleaning). Humidity and open air contribute to the corrosion of sterling silver jewelry, so you want to avoid exposure as much as possible when your jewelry isn’t being worn.
If you are not planning on wearing your sterling silver jewelry for an extended period of time, it is highly recommended that you store your pieces in a special jewelry bag designed to prevent turning (commercially available as well). (Ziplock bags work well also if the air is removed sufficiently. )
If you follow the above tips regarding the care and storage of your sterling silver jewelry, your pieces will look as good as new for many years to come. Take care of your sterling silver, and your sterling silver will make you look all the better.
Jake Kennedy is editor and publisher of the webs most fascinating Sterling Silver Jewelry website. For more fast facts on sterling silver jewelry check out: Sterling Silver Wire