Left in light and air, sterling silver tarnishes. That is to say it reacts with sulphides in the air and oxidizes. You see this as a dull film over the surface of your jewellery. Additionally the chemicals in soaps, perfumes, personal products and perspiration all have a further effect on precious metals. Salt water and chlorine in swimming pools are particularly harmful.
There are some basic tips you can follow to keep your silver jewellery looking its best.
- Take off your jewellery when doing household tasks such as gardening, cleaning or strenuous activities.
- Put your make-up and hair spray on before putting on your jewellery.
- Protect your jewellery from scratches and sharp blows. You can polish out scratches but you are effectively polishing “away” some of the silver.
- Avoid storing your jewellery in extreme temperatures or in sunlight. Don’t, for example, store it next to heating vents or on window sills.
- After you wear silver jewellery wipe it clean of make up and skin oils with a cotton cloth before putting it away.
- Avoid letting your silver come in contact with rubber as latex contains sulphur which will cause your silver to tarnish. Other things that contain high levels of sulphur are mustard, onions, latex and wool.
- Store your jewellery carefully when you aren’t using it.
For suggestions on how to clean your jewellery, have a look at our page Cleaning your silver jewellery for ideas.
Storing your silver jewellery
Remember when putting your silver jewellery away that the less air and light your silver is exposed to the less it will tarnish.
- Avoid storing your silver in contact with other metals.
- Protect your silver from the light with a cloth bag. There is a wide variety available for storing silver many of which are impregnated with anti tarnish treatments.
- Protect your silver from the air using resealable plastic bags, plastic storage containers or wrapping the items in cling film.
For silver you wear daily a jewellery box may be a good compromise way of storing your prized possessions. You don’t have to spend a fortune to find a practical and interesting box; one of my favourites is in oak and came from Crafty Boxes in the UK.