Posted on November 07, 2019 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments
Thanks to its versatility and beautiful shine, silver is one of the most popular metals for both fine and casual jewelry. Silver, in the form of utensils and serving ware, also finds a place on many dining tables.
To keep our favorite silver pieces looking their best, we must take regular care of them—which means preventing and staying on top of silver’s worst enemy: tarnish. When we keep tarnish to a minimum, we’re less likely to resort to abrasive cleaning measures and damage silver in the polishing process. If you want to keep your silver looking its best, follow the following silver care tips!
A Few Notes on Silver
The grade of silver you own may determine the level of care it requires. .950 sterling silver is more malleable (bendable) and will tarnish more easily than .925 sterling silver (which is slightly less pure than .950 sterling silver). Therefore, .950 may require more frequent and mindful care.
It All Stacks Up in Silver and Diamonds Ring Set, featuring oxidized silver
Some portions of your silver piece may be intentionally oxidized (blackened) to enhance details of the design. If an area of your silver piece is oxidized, avoid going over this area with silver polish to keep the oxidation intact.
Tarnish occurs when silver comes into contact with sulfur compounds (most often hydrogen sulfide in the air). Oxygen and sulfur chemically bond to the surface of the silver, making it look dirty or discolored.
The best way to keep your silver pieces looking their best is to prevent them from becoming overly tarnished in the first place. There are also several measures you can take to prevent other forms of damage, including corrosion and scratches.
If you’re using silver food items (like cups or utensils), wash them immediately in hot soapy water after you’re done using them; dry thoroughly. Air drying silver may leave water spots on the surface of the piece. Never wash a silver item in the dishwasher. Doing so may leave a white film on the silver.
Avoid exposing your silver jewelry to household cleaners, rubber, chlorinated water, or any sulfur-containing substances (like eggs, mustard, latex, onions, and wool). Also, keep your silver away from cosmetics, including lotion, hairspray, and perfume. (Jewelry is best saved for last when you’re getting ready.)
Proper Storage for Silver Items
Silver jewelry may be stored in airtight plastic bags with an anti-tarnish strip. Because silver can be easily scratched, don’t store more than one item per bag. Larger pieces can be stored in acid-free tissue or flannel, which helps keep sulfur away from silver, or in airtight bags with a packet of silica gel or activated charcoal packets. Avoid wrapping silver in newspaper or cardboard, and avoid storing silver in temperature and humidity extremes (e.g., the floor of your garage is probably not the best place for your grandmother’s silver punch bowl).
Polishing and Removing Tarnish
Silver should be polished over a towel. If you’re polishing your piece over a porous surface, like a wood table, lay a piece of plastic beneath the towel.
To polish lightly tarnished silver, first wet the piece. Apply a small dab of silver polish, and using a foam sponge, lint-free makeup pad, or scrap of flannel, massage the silver in a back-and-forth motion going with the grain of the metal (in cases where a grain is distinguishable). Q-tips may also be used to get into more difficult areas. Avoid polishing silver with paper towels and toothbrushes; these are too abrasive and may mar the finish.
As the spot on your rag gets blackened, move to a clean spot. Do not clean silver in a haste (this is especially true of delicate and antique pieces); doing so may cause you to break or damage the silver. When you’re finished polishing your piece, carefully rinse away any polish residue, and dry the piece.
Deeply tarnished pieces are best left to a reputable jeweler or silver shop. Do not immerse silver in a “mircale dip.” These dips do remove tarnish, but they may also mar the finish of the metal.
To preserve the life of your silver polish, store the polish with the lid tightly sealed. Top off the polish with a bit of distilled water (not tap water) to keep the polish creamy.
Are you a fan of silver? What’s your favorite silver piece?
You may also be interested in: How to Store and Take Care of Antique Jewelry
Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry