Ladies Feather with Chain Sterling Silver EarringsEandE Jewellery
Looking after silver jewellery
How to clean sterling silver
Building up a collection of sterling silver jewellery takes time. You put a lot of effort and care into selecting each piece. You may even have pieces in your collection that you want to keep to pass on to your children. Sterling silver is a durable metal and will last a lifetime if it is looked after correctly.
Sterling silver is not actually pure silver, it does contain up to 10% of other metals like copper. The reason that the other metals are combined with the silver is because pure silver is actually very soft, the addition of copper, nickel or zinc make it easier to work with. Sterling silver is not only used to make jewellery, it is also used in to make cutlery, hair clips and other accessories.
While sterling silver will last well, it does need to be looked after correctly otherwise your pieces will tarnish and discolor, leaving them looking dull. Cleaning your sterling silver jewellery can be done at home or for your more expensive piece it is better to have them cleaned by a professional who will take care not to damage the settings.
There are a few ways you can clean your sterling silver jewellery at home, some are more effective than others. The most effective method is the Electrolyte Method and this is an easy method what makes use of common items you probably have in your kitchen.
This method makes use of a mixture of baking soda, salt, water, and aluminum foil to clean your silver jewellery. If your jewellery has pearls, turquoise or is an antique piece then we do not recommend using this method.
To clean your jewellery using the Electrolyte Method, follow these steps.
- Line a dish with aluminum foil with the shiny side facing up. Once the dish is completely covered with foil, place the sterling silver jewellery into the dish. Do not add to many pieces of jewellery. The pieces should not be on top of one another but spaced out and that each piece is touching the foil, this is important.
- Add in 2 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 cups of boiling water. You can add in 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap if you want to, but it is not essential. Once you have added all of the ingredients, stir until the salt and baking soda have dissolved.
- Leave the jewellery in the dish for at least 10 minutes. You might notice it starts to smell; this is normal. You can gently rub the jewellery using your finger, this will help to speed up the cleaning process a little.
- Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the pieces of jewellery and rinse them under warm water. After you have rinsed them thoroughly, use a soft cloth to buff each piece gently. It is important to find a soft cloth to use, if you use an abrasive cloth, it will scratch the jewellery. Do not buff the jewellery in a circular motion, rather buff in the direction of the grain of the silver. If you can not figure out the grain direction, just buff in the same direction.
For jewellery that cannot be cleaned using the above method, clean using soap and water and these simple steps.
- Combine 1 tablespoon of ammonia-free dishwashing soap with one cup of warm water. Mix well.
- Use a soft cloth to dip into the soapy water, wring out any excess water. Use the cloth to clean the pieces of sterling silver until they are clean. Rinse the cloth completely or use a new cloth to make sure all soap residue is removed.
- Once this has been done, use a dry cloth to buff each piece.
Prevention is always better than cure and there are some things you can do to prevent your pieces of sterling silver jewellery from tarnishing. Keep your silver away from products that contain Sulphur, and this will cause the silver to tarnish. These include things like; sweat, rubber and latex, wool as well as lotions and beauty products.
Remove your jewellery when you go swimming or when you are using harsh chemicals to clean with. Sunlight does affect your jewellery and can speed up the tarnishing process, so it is better to remove your jewellery if you are spending a lot of time in the sun. Always store it in a dry, dark place. Moisture can cause silver to tarnish so when you store it make sure that the moisture is removed. You can do this by placing chalk or silica in the bag with the silver jewellery as this will remove any moisture in the air. Also, store each piece individually. This will prevent the pieces from rubbing against one another and scratching and it will prevent the other metals from oxidising.