BMJ Blog

How to Care for Your Silver

Posted on November 07, 2019 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

How to Care for Your Silver | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Sterling Silver Teardrop Earrings with Lemon Quartz

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.

How to Care for Your Silver | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

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.

Preventative Measures

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.

How to Care for Your Silver

Silver Martini Sticks

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.

How to Care for Your Silver | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Silver Fringe Tree Circle Pendant Necklace

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 

Why Does Some Jewelry Turn Skin Green?

Should You Store Your Jewelry In a Safe-Deposit Box?


Photos: Barbara Michelle Jacobs Jewelry 

Posted in jewelry solutions, jewelry storage, jewelry tips, silver

Silver Legends: Silver as Weapon against Vampires and Werewolves

Posted on October 11, 2018 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Silver Legends: Silver as Weapon against Vampires and Werewolves | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

From the Twilight series to True Blood, there’s no absence of vampire lore (and entertainment) in the 21st century. Likewise, there are individuals who believe in the existence of vampires and are compelled to hunt these mysterious creatures of the darkness—some vampire hunters have even been arrested for weapons violations!

There are a few vampire-slaying weapons, however, that won’t attract the attention of law enforcement but may make you feel a bit safer while traipsing through a cemetery at night--or so the lore goes. Garlic, of course, has been trusted for centuries as a potent anti-vampire substance. And then there’s also silver, which has been woven into more recent vampire stories. Those unfamiliar with contemporary legends of vampires may wonder—Why silver? Why not gold or platinum or all precious metals?

Silver Legends: Silver as Weapon against Vampires and Werewolves | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

A search for the origin of the belief in silver as a vampire antidote will reveal that the history of the idea is as murky as the underworld itself. Between "ancient texts" and internet lore, there's no shortage of incomplete, dubious, and fanciful stories to keep you entertained. Here's one to make your head spin: 

Judas Iscariot as the “Original Vampire” (?)

In the New Testament, Judas Iscariot betrays Christ, resulting in Christ’s crucifixion. In return for his betrayal, Judas is given thirty silver pieces. He soon after regrets his decision, but his efforts to repent bring him no peace:

Then Judas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5)

This is where the New Testament leaves us as far as Judas’s story is concerned. According to one blogger with supposed access to a rare and ancient text, the narrative was revisited in 843 when a Catholic monk by the name of Aed penned the Book of Agulan, in which he recorded Judas’s fate after this scene in Matthew. The blogger suspects that Aed was recording threads of a story he’d heard shared around the community.

In this version of the story, God punishes Judas by restoring his life, cursing him to wander the earth, in fear of sunlight, without the comfort of death until the end of time. (Some sources debate the matter of light sensitivity.) As further punishment, God only permits Judas to drink human blood, forbidding him water and wine.

Silver as Punishment. As a final punishment in this narrative, God makes Judas silver-intolerant, a painful reminder of his transgression. In this story, Judas fathers many offspring—and all of them are fated to walk in the darkness as “Creatures of the Night,” feeding on human blood. Proponents of the Judas-as-original-vampire theory believe that the Iscariot clan spanned modern-day Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. (No references to this story appear before 2012, however.)

(Funnily enough, pieces of this legend sound a lot like the plot of the movie Dracula 2000. Coincidence?)  

It’s generally acknowledged in contemporary vampire lore (internet and TV series) that silver both burns and temporarily paralyzes vampires, inhibiting them from removing the silver from their bodies.

Despite the hold that the Judas-as-vampire story seems to have on the some vampire internet "experts"-- and the belief that silver harms vampires--a look at older literature and events reveals that silver may be a recent adaptation. In fact, it may actually have its origins in legends of werewolves.

Silver Saves the French Countryside

In the 18th century, Gévaudan, an area in south-central France, witnessed the devastating attacks of what many believed to be a werewolf. From 1764 to 1767, the beast reportedly roamed the countryside, attacking, killing, and sometimes eating unsuspecting victims. One report notes that out of 210 attacks, 113 resulted in death.

Silver Legends: Silver as Weapon against Vampires and Werewolves | Barbara Michelle Jacobs Blog

Of course, what some believed was a werewolf could have been a pack of ordinary but hungry wolves. Either way, a hunting team was organized to kill the Beast of Gévaudan.  Jean Chastel, a local hunter, was believed to kill the large wolf with a blessed silver bullet. Thus, the idea of silver-as-werewolf-killer was born.

Bram Stoker's Dracula--Not Harmed by Silver? 

Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker is arguably the most famous vampire novel and is considered a seminal text in the horror genre. It doesn't look like silver plays a big role in the story, however. The only references to silver (as a metal) are to a silver lamp that Dracula, himself, holds in his hands:

"Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere. He held in his hand an antique silver lamp, in which the flame burned without chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draught of the open door...He bowed in a courtly way as he replied:—“I am Dracula; and I bid you welcome...As he was speaking, he put the lamp on a bracket on the wall"

Silver crops up at least once more in the story in the form of the silver crucifix that Dr. Van Helsing, an occult specialist, gives to Jonathan Harker (Dracula's prisoner) before they go to hunt down Dracula. The power of the crucifix seems to be only in the fact that it is a crucifix, however.

Could this mean that silver as a vampire antidote was simply confused with werewolf legends? Has silver now become a go-to vampire weapon for screenwriters and contemporary horror writers? What are your thoughts? 

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Photos: Aniko’s BlogDracula Movie, Wikimedia Commons

Posted in folklore, silver, silver legends, silver lore

How to Find the Best Metal for Your Skin Tone

Posted on February 11, 2016 by Mary Hood | 1 Comment

When it comes time to invest in an important piece of jewelry, you may want to consider which metal is the most flattering for your skin tone. Although types and colors of metal go in and out of fashion (rose gold is currently having a moment), for a lasting piece, you’ll appreciate having something that brings out the best in your skin—whatever the current trends are.

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Posted in gold, jewelry shopping, jewelry tips, rose gold, silver, skin tone, style tips

Eco-Friendly Jewlery: DIY Spoon Rings

Posted on September 17, 2015 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Spoon rings are special because they provide an opportunity to make something beautiful out of something we no longer use.

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Posted in DIY, eco-friendly, handmade, jewelry making, jewelry making tools, jewelry tips, silver, spoon rings

DIY Oxidized Silver Jewelry

Posted on April 21, 2014 by Mary Hood | 0 Comments

Oxidized silver is sterling silver that’s been purposely tarnished using a controlled method. While effective, chemical oxidation solutions like Silver Black, Black Max, Win-Ox, and Liver of Sulfur are hazardous and must be used with caution and appropriate, protective equipment. 
To save your kitchen from toxic fumes, we’ll explore a safer, simpler method of silver oxidation you can do with a hard-boiled egg and a little patience.

Why Oxidized Silver?

Oxidizing sterling silver emphasizes the details of the design and setting. This extra step gives an organic, natural look to a piece, and depending on the style of the jewelry, an oxidized finish can make it look rustic, antique, earthy, or even edgy. 

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Posted in antiquing, DIY, jewelry, jewelrymaking, oxidized silver, oxidizing, silver, sterling silver