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 found 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 will tarnish even more quickly 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. They are also recommended for items that contain stones that can be damaged by chemicals. Just avoid the sensitive components when polishing.
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.