Tips and Tricks: How to Prevent and Clean Silver Tarnished Jewelry

I used to get so frustrated with sterling silver tarnish till I learned a few tips and pointers when I started doing research on types of metals. Polishing my favorite necklace which had a snake chain and was very hard to clean came to mind when writing this post and also the tea set my mom had when I was a child.

Tarnish as most of you know can be removed by gently using a polishing cloth. There are wonderful polishing pads designed specifically for jewelry that approximately 1 inch by 1 inch that take tarnish off easily and almost feel like rubber. Also, there are the more traditional polishing cloths that you can buy in all different kinds of sizes, but are impregnated with cleansing agents, the brand Sunshine comes to mind. If your jewelry has absolutely no stones and is not mixed metal, the piece can be dipped in a silver cleaning solution, such as Connosieurs which takes tarnish off in just a few seconds. Just a warning though this solution is not the most pleasant smelling and I recommend wearing gloves.

To prevent tarnish from the beginning you can purchase tarnish ziploc bags that have copper in them will help keep your silver jewelry tarnish free, for generally speaking up to a year. Also I like to put a “sacrificial” penny inside my jewelry box and display cases to help prevent tarnishing. When I mean sacrificial I mean a coin of no numismatic or even sentimental value since the coin will oxidize before the silver. If the penny is already pretty oxidized or dirty I suggest rubbing it with a piece of sandpaper to expose the copper surface.

If you just want silver jewelry that is just going to be maintenance free, look for jewelry that is made with the newest silver alloys that are already tarnish resistant. Its seems to be growing more and more in popularity with jewelers. One alloy is Argentium, of which there are several varieties have silver purity levels that I have seen range between 93% and 96 % silver, which is higher that sterling at 92.5%.  The difference between this alloy and Sterling is the presence of Germanium. Another alloy to look for is Sterlium Plus which is tarnish resistant up to two years. Fine silver which is 99.9 percent pure silver also tends not to tarnish, however it is significantly a softer metal in comparison to sterling silver which limits its use and is harder to find in jewelry. Also, rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry which is everywhere will keep have a nice bright silver luster and help with surface tarnishing. However, the down side to anything that is plated is that plating  does wear off.  Hope these tips and tricks help you keep your silver jewelry the color silver. Of course if you like when silver tarnishes and turns black, there is always black oxidized sterling jewelry. Thank you for reading!


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