Working with sterling silver every day for several years now, I’ve learned a lot, even made a few cool discoveries about how to optimize it’s care. Here are some tips.
What makes silver tarnish?
All silver will tarnish, even the high quality stuff like Tiffany and Betty B. Exposure to various elements (including plain old air) will accelerate the rate of tarnishing, though.
One cause is PH levels in our skin. The more acidic you are, the more likely your silver will tarnish. This is why some people get dark marks on their skin where they wear silver and their silver turns dark when they wear it. How to prevent this? Wipe it down with as soft cloth after every wearing and store it in a relatively airtight container and take measures on balancing your body’s PH, which is crucial to good health anyway. This is often a cause for irritation to metals also. My own experience of balancing my body’s PH via an addition of greens supplements to my diet made it possible for me to wear earrings again after 12 years!
In the Betty B. retail store in Ventura we have people coming in and touching the silver all day long and it’s exposed to open air. Of course it tarnishes, so we have several methods to freshen it up:
My favorite is the eco-friendly hot water method. I discovered a few years back that the jewelry I constantly wore stayed clean while pieces I left lying around would tarnish. I realized that wearing my jewelry in the shower was the reason it didn’t tarnish! I had heard in Bali about using hot water and dish soap to clean silver, but only became convinced of its effectiveness after making this discovery. It was my shampoo and hot water that was keeping it fresh. That’s why rings will stay polished if you keep them on when you wash your hands. So if you have more silver than you want to wear in the shower (like we do in the retail store), put it in a bucket of some sort with some very sudsy dish soap and add just enough very hot water to get a good layer of foam going. Swish it around in the foam… add more hot water… keep doing this. Pull out silver and lay it on a dry towel. Repeat as needed.
For silver that is attached to wood or leather or other materials that shouldn’t get the above treatment, we use a Sunshine polishing cloth. They last for many years and do the job well. You can buy it here. I recommend cutting it into two pieces so that you have two smaller ones, which are easier to use polishing jewelry.
I am still researching alternative eco-friendly methods to polish silver easily, so I will post them here once I have news.
Smiles from Ventura,