Handmade Sterling Silver Jewellery is adored for its distinctive craftsmanship. These precious pieces might lose their lustre & become discoloured with time and you could probably think of discarding them. The filthy layer on the metal makes the jewellery unappreciative despite it being a beautiful piece.
Why Tarnish Occurs? The reason behind this tarnishing is not very exceptional. 92.5 Sterling Silver Jewellery consists of 92.5% Silver and 7.5 % hardening alloys such as Copper. It is simply a dulling that naturally occurs when silver reacts with sulphur or hydrogen sulphide in the air. It is impossible to completely avoid the exposure of jewellery to the ambient air or moisture which is why Sterling Silver Jewellery is bound to tarnish over time.
Preventing tarnish: - By following the tips below your Silver Jewellery could last a lifetime.
- To prevent tarnish from building up, wear your silver jewellery often & regularly clean it.
- Make sure your jewellery is stored in a best possible way to keep it beautiful & sparkling. Storing your jewellery in the following ways would help preventing tarnish.
- Store your jewellery in a clean, dry & moisture free place.
- Or Store it in an acid free tissue to slow down the tarnish process.
- You may also store it in a tarnish resistant cloth.
- Keep your jewellery pieces in separate air tight plastic pouches or a Ziploc bag to avoid moisture contact. You may add anti-tarnish strips to these pouches, but do replace them in every few months.
- Silica Sachets can be placed in the jewellery box to keep the moisture away.
- Keeping a piece of white chalk in the storage box is a whack.
- Minimize contact with chemicals, hair dyes, paints, body lotions, perfumes, oils, chlorinated water, harmful products or anything that contains sulphur as these will expedite tarnishing. If you are using these products for any reason, make sure to take your jewellery off. Use make-up prior to wearing your jewellery to limit exposure to harmful chemicals.
- Minimize contact with foods which have onions, egg yolk, mustard, salt, salad dressings & olives as these might trigger tarnishing.
- After removing your Sterling Silver Jewellery clean it with a gentle cloth before storing it.
Caution! Guys some pieces are intentionally oxidized by the artisans. So the above mentioned tips do not apply to such pieces. If you will keep the oxidized jewellery in an air-tight pouch, the oxidation will become obscure.
Removing Tarnish: Once there’s a filthy layer on your silver adornments, you need to know how to get rid of it without damaging your silver jewellery, cause even mild polishing can cause abrasion & some silver might get removed with each polish.
Below are few of the inexpensive and incredibly effective ways which could bring back the lustre & shine of your silver jewellery.
- Jewellery Wipes: These are easily available at your local jewellery stores. And are useful in removing mild discoloration from your jewellery.
- Soft Cloth: A silver polishing cloth formulated specifically to remove tarnish is effective in cleaning silver jewellery. Gently rubbing the surface would eliminate mild tarnish. These are fairly cheap and can be found at your local jewellery supply store. The only constraint is that the cloth cannot reach grooves & cervices of a jewellery piece.
- Mild Soap & Warm Water: Polishing with a soft cloth didn’t remove all the tarnish from your jewellery? Do not worry! Wipe it with soapy delicate cloth & warm water and scrub tenderly while making sure that it doesn’t scratches the jewellery. After cleaning, use the cotton cloth to dry it.
- Baking Soda & Water: You can bring back the gleam of your Sterling Silver jewellery by using this simple ingredient from your kitchen. Make a paste of Baking Soda & water, smear a small quantity to the silver & rub or caress gently with your fingers till the tarnish vanishes. Thereafter, rinse it under cold water & dry the silver completely. Use soft cotton cloth to get its radiance back. (Do not use Baking soda on Silver jewellery that contains precious stones & diamonds)
- Baking Soda, Aluminium Foil & Water: Another eloquent home treatment is to use Baking Soda, Aluminium Foil & boiling water. Use a glass dish & line it with aluminium foil, the shiny side up. Make sure that your jewellery touches the aluminium foil as it is necessary for the chemical reaction to remove tarnish. Sprinkle baking soda in a way that it covers all the silver jewellery & then pour hot boiling water over it. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes depending on the amount of tarnish. Take out the silver jewellery, rinse under cool water and wipe with a soft cloth. Lay flat to air dry completely.
- Baking Soda, Aluminium Foil, White Vinegar & Salt: Gather these ingredients & line your pan with a sheet of foil (shiny side up). Lay out your blackened jewellery & have each part of the jewellery touch the foil. Mix 1 cup of boiling water, 1tbsp salt & 1tbsp Baking Soda together and slowly pour the mixture into the foiled pan. You can flip & reposition the jewellery pieces with salad tongs just to ensure that both sides get exposure to the foil. Slowly add ½ cup of White Vinegar. Let it stand for a few minutes. Take each piece out carefully, rinse with water & buff it gently with your polishing cloth. (An apple cider vinegar would also work but could take a bit longer to remove the tarnish.)
Silver Cleaner’s available in Market:
In case, your alluring silver adornments have dusted over with tarnish, and you are planning to purchase some earmarked silver cleaner, don’t do that.
There are many commercial silver cleaners (though little expensive) easily available in the market, formulated specially to remove tarnish. But BEWARE! These can cause damage to your jewellery by eliminating anti-tarnish coating as well as valuable patina. It might give an episodic shine to the silver pieces, but the pieces will blacken in quick successions and will require frequent cleaning sessions.
If there’s some insistent heavy tarnish intensified since years on your jewellery, you must take it to the care of professionals.