Silver jewellery, such as earrings, necklaces or even a silver charm bracelet, can look wonderful and stylish. However, if you are not careful then your silver baubles can tarnish and start to look dull and lacklustre.
Silver jewellery tarnishes because of oxidative reactions with sulphur, such as Hydrogen Sulphide, in the air. The silver starts to corrode and this creates a darker look on the metal which is referred to as tarnish. The good news is that tarnish is unlike rust – it is a “self-limiting” patina and it only affects only the top few layers of the metal. Although it doesn’t look attractive, it will not permanently damage the silver and can be easily removed.
So how do you stop your silver jewellery from tarnishing? Here are some tips that you can keep in mind:
Tips for Keeping Silver Jewellery Tarnish Free
- Always make sure that your jewellery is clean and dry before storing it, since any dirt, moisture, oils and other chemicals can accelerate the tarnishing.
- Always store your jewellery in a cool and dry place. The more moist the environment your jewellery is in, the faster it tarnishes.
- If possible, store your silver in a container that locks out the air. This will reduce contact with the environmental factors that cause corrosion. A zip lock bag can be a great choice, but make sure that it is made of polyethylene rather than polyvinyl as these can have chemical compounds that make tarnishing worse.
- Most jewellery stores will stock special bags and boxes that are designed to help prevent silver from tarnishing, so ask your jeweller.
- When you are storing your jewellery it is important to keep it in separate bags, so that it is kept away from any other hard items that might scratch the surface of the jewellery.
- Avoid storing your jewellery in excessively humid areas. Also do not store it in areas with direct sunlight and other places where your jewellery could possibly rub up against other items. Don’t store your jewellery on any chemically treated surface such as a wooden counter top, as the chemicals within the surface might promote the tarnishing of the silver.
- Did you know that chalk is an old remedy for preventing tarnish? Simply store the chalk in your jewellery box or container and the chalk will absorb any moisture and chemical residue in the air, slowing down the tarnishing process.
- There are also anti-tarnish strips that you can purchase in many places. They are designed to absorb sulphur, as well as any other corrosive chemicals that might be floating around in the air.
- Another strategy is to use silica packs, which are the little packs that can be found in shoe boxes and other packaging. They absorb moisture, so they are great for using in your jewellery box to prevent tarnishing.
- Never wear your silver jewellery when you are swimming, cleaning or taking a shower. The chemicals in the jewellery such as bleach, chlorine and ammonia can cause the silver to tarnish.
- When you are cleaning your silver jewellery, avoid using paper towels or tissues. They contain fibres that can scratch the surface of your silver jewellery.
- It is a good idea to clean your silver jewellery once per year using ultrasonic jewellery cleaner. However, silver jewellery that is studded with gemstones should not be cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner, as the chemical that is used in the cleaner might damage the gemstone.
- A very effective way to clean your silver is to use a sheet of aluminium foil, placed shiny side up in a large bowl. Place the tarnished silver on the foil and pour boiled water over top of it, then add a good quantity of baking soda. Watch as the tarnish moves from the silver to the foil. Once the tarnish has been removed, you can take the jewellery out of the bowl and clean it well with warm soapy water and dry it with a soft cloth. (Of course, do not do this with jewellery with gemstones as the boiling water might damage them.)
These are just a few tips that you can keep in mind for avoiding tarnishing your beautiful, special and handmade silver jewellery. Take good care of your jewellery so that you can keep it looking shiny and beautiful for many years!