Monday, January 14, 2008

How to Keep Sterling Silver Jewelry Shiny and Bright

Tips for Cleaning and Preventing Tarnish
By Lee Shyu

Cleaning sterling silver jewelry has sometimes gained a reputation for being tedious. This only happens if you allow your jewelry to become irreparably tarnished through neglect. Good cleaning habits and a few simple precautions taken when you wear your jewelry should be enough to keep Sterling Silver bright and beautiful for years.

Preventing Sterling Silver Tarnish
One of the most important steps for keeping silver jewelry bright is preventing the tarnish in the first place. While rarely discussed, learning how to prevent tarnish will save hours of cleaning time later on. You should remove all sterling silver jewelry when applying perfumes, hair spray, lotions, and similar items. Avoid getting make-up, foods, and drink on your jewelry.

If you do stain your jewelry with the above, rinse immediately with water and soap (mild, phosphate free preferably). Avoid strong chemicals, such as those found in hair coloring and dyes; these can tarnish silver instantly. Removing your jewelry when you bath or swim may or may not be necessary; just rinse with soap and water afterwards to clean off any residual chemicals.

Cleaning your Sterling Silver Jewelry
The most common cleaning method for sterling silver jewelry is to use a soft polishing cloth on pieces you frequently wear. This helps remove any dirt or oils that may get on your jewelry through contact with skin and the environment. A soft non-abrasive cloth will work, or visit a jewelry store to purchase chemically treated polishing clothes especially designed for jewelry polishing. The frequency of such cleanings will vary with each person, but the hard and fast rule is to wipe the piece anytime you feel the shine is looking dull or before you store the piece away for an extended period.

Silver jewelry that won't be worn for a while must be sealed in a plastic or cloth bag to minimize exposure to oxygen, humidity, and damage.

For a more thorough cleaning, detergents can be used. One method is to place a few pinches of baking soda or other mild non-phosphate detergents on your jewelry, then wash with mineral free water by either rubbing with fingers or using a soft cloth. Scrubbers or soft tooth brushes may be used for a deeper cleaning only if necessary, since they may scratch the surface and dull the jewelry's polish.

There are also chemical cleaners available, but repeated use of liquid cleaners can result in discoloration overtime, therefore, such cleaners should only be used sparingly and only when other methods of cleaning fail.

When cleaning with any of the methods listed here, avoid directly cleaning any gemstones or you will dull the polish overtime.

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