Why Sterling Silver Jewelry Tarnishes
Sterling silver contains 92.5 percent silver and about 7.5 percent of other metals, usually copper. When air touches sterling silver jewelry, oxidative reactions occur with sulfur. Moisture can also cause tarnish, as well as corrosion, on silver.
Because of the copper or other metals used in sterling silver, it will tarnish when out in the air or exposed to moisture. High humidity levels and air pollution will also cause sterling silver to tarnish, as will contact with chemicals such as deodorant, perfume, hairspray, bleach, and lotion.
Containers to Use for Silver
Almost any container can be used to store silver when it will not be worn for extended periods of time. Regular zippered plastic bags can be a great way to store silver, as they lock out all the air. To do this, place one piece of sterling silver jewelry into a plastic bag. Close the bag halfway. Squeeze the bag to make sure all the air is out, and then close the bag fully. As long as the bag you use does not contain abrasive surfaces, such as Mylar or polyethylene, you can use it to store silver.
However, most people do not prefer to use plastic baggies to store sterling silver jewelry for many reasons. If you have more than a few pieces, your jewelry box will be cluttered with plastic bags. Only one piece can be placed in each bag to prevent tangling, so many baggies will need to be used.
The better alternative containers include specialized jewelry bags from jewelry stores or online. These bags are made for jewelry, and they also have bags specifically made for sterling silver.
Ways to Prevent Tarnish
Using containers specifically designed to protect sterling silver is the best option, but there are many other ways to prevent tarnish on your sterling silver.
1) Chalk – An old remedy for preventing tarnish, just store chalk in your jewelry box or container and it will naturally absorb chemical residues in the air.
2) Anti-Tarnish Strips – Sold in many places, these strips are usually made from non-toxic materials that absorb tarnish causing agents in the air.
3) Anti-Tarnish cloths – Similar to the strips, these cloths are either chemically treated or saturated with traces of silver; both absorb sulfur and other corrosive chemicals in the air.
4) Silica Packs – Those little packs you find in medicine bottles and shoe boxes among other places. Highly useful in absorbing moisture in the air, toss them in your jewelry containers instead of the trash; you’ll be preventing tarnish and recycling as well.
5) Remove your silver jewelry when cleaning, wimming and taking a shower. Before using any product that contains bleach,ammonia,alcohol,fingernail polish removers that contain acetone, and turpentine always remember to remove your silver jewelry. As some of these can cause a breakdown in the metal alloys and makes your jewelry beyond repair and dull.
6)While sleeping remove your jewelery. Movement during sleep can also cause stress.
How to Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry
If you do start to notice tarnishing on your silver, it is important to clean it immediately to stop and to possibly reverse the process. To clean the metal, use a polishing cloth made specifically for silver or sterling silver.
If polishing is not enough, you can use a silver jewelry wash. you can either make your own or purchase specially made washes.
In some cases, tarnish has progressed to such an advanced state that you will not be able to remove it on your own – at least, not using the usual methods. In these cases, you will have to see a professional jeweler who can clean the silver with special equipment.
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