How to care for your Sterling Silver Jewelry

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What is Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.

Often Sterling Silver and silver are described as the same thing, but in reality, sterling silver is only an alloy of silver. Silver, which is usually called fine silver, consists of 99.9% pure silver and is considered to be a soft metal. On the other hand when silver is mixed with say copper creating sterling silver the metal hardens and is then suitable for making such things as jewelry.

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Help prevent tarnishing

Most of the jewelry pieces at our online store are either rhodium plated, silver plated or e-plated which all offer a great anti tarnish barrier. When not wearing your Sterling Silver jewelry it also helps to protect your jewelry from exposure to air which tarnishes silver, so storing your Sterling Silver pieces in airtight plastic bags with silica gel is a great way to minimize tarnishing.

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Help prevent scratching

When storing multiple jewelry pieces it is best to store them in separate plastic bags with sillica gel to avoid scratching of each other. Link or chain bracelets should be kept unclasped or unhooked to prevent scratching as well.

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Polishing

Simply polishing your Sterling Silver with a polishing cloth or other soft nonabrasive cloth works well when the tarnishing is not too severe. It’s also the best method for cleaning oxidized silver, as you can stay away from the intentionally tarnished areas. Also, change to a different section of your cloth frequently to avoid placing tarnish back on the silver. You can use a Q-tip to get into small, detailed areas.

Be careful with silver-plated items, as excessive polishing can remove the plating (depending on the thickness) and leave pieces worse than when they started.

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Cleaning tarnish from Sterling Silver

Place the silver pieces on top of the aluminum foil. Then pour boiling water over the pieces until they are covered and add 2 tbsp. each of baking soda and salt. Stir the solution to allow the baking soda to dissolve — you don't want any granules scratching the metal.

Baking soda and water: You might have heard that a non-whitening, non-gel toothpaste can be a good substitute for commercial silver cleaners, but nowadays these basic toothpastes are hard to find or distinguish from the toothpastes that will discolour your silver. Instead, make a paste of baking soda and water and use a clean cloth to apply a pea-sized amount to the silver and polish. For etched, stamped or detailed items, thin the paste with more water and use a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush to get the cracks and crevices. Run the silver piece or pieces under running warm water, and dry with a clean cloth.

Olive oil and lemon juice: Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 tsp. olive oil in a bowl large enough to hold the cleaning solution and a small microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth in the solution and wring it out so that it doesn’t drip, then polish the silver, rinse, and dry.

White vinegar and baking soda: Use this gentle cleaner to remove heavy tarnish that’s preventing you from polishing your silver. Soak the tarnished piece in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp. baking soda (be prepared for the fizzing!) for two to three hours, then rinse and dry.

Baking soda, salt, aluminium foil, and boiling water: You can take advantage of a simple chemical reaction to clean your silver: all you’ll need is some baking soda, salt, and aluminium foil. Line a glass roasting pan or the kitchen sink with aluminium foil, dull side facing down. Place the silver pieces on top of the aluminium foil. Then pour boiling water over the pieces until they are covered and add 2 tbsp. each of baking soda and salt. Stir the solution to allow the baking soda to dissolve — you don’t want any granules scratching the metal.

The reaction causes the tarnish to transfer to the foil, and in about 5-10 minutes you’ll see the tarnish “magically” disappear from the jewelry. (Be prepared for the smell of rotten eggs, though, as the sulphide tarnish comes off the silver.) Using salad tongs or nitrile gloves (not rubber gloves, which contain sulphur), remove the silver jewelry from the hot water or drain into a colander. Rinse the jewelry with water, then dry and buff with a soft cloth. Voila! Your silver should be sparkling clean and ready to keep you looking fabulous.

Combination: If your pieces have very stubborn tarnish, you can use these treatments in succession to get them looking shiny again.

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