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Jul 5, 2010

We thought we’d share with everyone our tried-and-true methods to prevent tarnish on sterling silver jewelry. Sterling silver jewelry is easy to care for if you follow a few simple steps with a minimum amount of time and effort. Storing silver jewelry for a prolonged time without proper care causes it to tarnish.

Tarnish on Sterling Silver Jewelry can look different depending on how long it’s been oxidizing. It usually can be yellowish in color or in extreme cases, black. Tarnish occurs when sterling silver reacts with oxygen in the air to form silver oxide on silver surface. Other factors that cause tarnish are exposure to humidity, sulfur, certain acids and cosmetics such as lotions, perfume etc., Contact with rubber bands also may cause tarnish due to the sulfur in the rubber band.

Prevention is better than cure.

Store your jewelry in a cool, dry place. The more moist the climate, the faster it tarnishes. Store them in individual small plastic sealed zip-lock bags. This prevents scratches and other substances in the air that speeds up tarnish. There are jewelry boxes available in jewelry stores that is lined with a tarnish-free material to keep your silver in it’s original condition. Bigger pieces can be wrapped in an anti-tarnish cloth. Include an Anti-tarnish strip in individual jewelry bags and change the strips in every two to three months. Silica Gel packs are also useful in absorbing moisture in the air.

A new technology eliminate the need of anti-tarnish strips to prevent tarnish on your silver or gold jewelry. Use anti-tarnish re-closeable plastic bags made of Carbon-impregnated plastic to store your silver or gold jewelry. Thanks to the new technology developed by Nicholas Kotov, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Michigan. Carbon-impregnated plastic neutralizes the gases and moisture in the atmosphere that corrode and oxidizes silver and ensures your silver jewelry is tarnish-free for up to two years. These Carbon-impregnated re-closeable plastic bags are widely available and when bought in bulk(in hundreds) costs less than 10 cents per 4 x 6 inch bag.

Do not wear your silver jewelry while cleaning, swimming and taking a shower. The chemicals such as ammonia, bleach and chlorine in water could cause tarnishing. Before returning your silver jewelry to storage, wipe and clean them with a soft cotton cloth preferably a professional jewelry polishing cloth such as Sunshine Polishing cloth, to remove any body oils, dirt, lotions etc., Do not use paper towels or tissues to dry your jewelry as they contain fibers that can scratch silver surface.

To clean lightly tarnished silver jewelry items, wash in warm water with phosphate free mild soap, rinse and dry thoroughly with a soft cotton cloth. Take your heavily tarnished items to a jeweler for professional help.

It is a good practice to clean your silver jewelry once in a year using an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. However, silver jewelry studded with gemstones should not be cleaned using an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner as the chemical used in the cleaner might damage the gemstone. Use a jewelry polishing cloth such as Sunshine Polishing cloth to polish and remove tarnish on silver jewelry studded with gemstones. Silver is a soft metal and can be easily scratched so be sure to use a clean soft cotton cloth to remove any dust or dirt before using polishing cloth on the jewelry. When in doubt about the methods or materials you use to remove tarnish, clean or polish your silver jewelry, please take it to a Professional Jeweler.