Sterling silver tarnishes and unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about that nasty little fact. Silver reacts to sulfur. If you know anything about this element, it’s everywhere. In fact, humans have used sulfides for years! It is in the air we breathe, soil, common beauty products, smoke, fertilizers, foods, gasoline, pollution…etc. The list is so long there is no way to cover it in a blog, but trust me, it’s everywhere. Some locations (ex. the beach, lakes and urban areas) have higher quantities in the air and so silver tarnish happens even quicker in those locations. Fortunately you can clean, polish and then protect silver to slow down the process, and I’ll tell you how. Just be careful with any jewelry that contains stones, pearls or glass. Metal cleaners can damage some of these substances so do additional research before cleaning them or spot clean the metal areas only.
Polishing Cloths & Pads
For simple silver cleaning and polishing jobs you can use a cloth or a pad. Rub tarnished areas with the cloths and that’s it! This type of cleaning is ideal for items with smooth surfaces such as blanks, wire and sheet. We also recommend using these for items that contain stones easily damaged by chemicals. Just avoid the sensitive components when polishing.
Dips & Sprays
For cleaning silver items that have more texture, relief, and details, you’ll want to use a spray or a dip. Either spray or soak jewelry for 1-2 minutes, rinse, wipe off with a soft cloth and you’re done! This is the best way to clean detailed rings, chain and pendants that are entirely made of silver.
You can slow the tarnishing process using anti-tarnish materials. Simply storing your silver with anti-tarnish products can really make a difference. Just remember to check the shelf life and switch them out as soon as you spot the first tell-tale signs of tarnishing.
Another anti-tarnish choice is the metal itself. Removing some of the copper and replacing it with germanium produces argentium sterling silver. This is a silver product which is tarnish resistant (I say resistant because it will tarnish after an extended period of time or under intense sulfer exposure) but it is more expensive than sterling silver and a harder product to find.
Silver can be a pain to take care of but just one look at that beautifully polished metal and it’s worth all the extra care that’s required!
For heavy duty cleaning and polishing, read about flex shaft attachments perfect for any job.
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