Keep your silver sparkling ~ VANDA inspired

Keep Your Silver Sparkling

Maintaining your silver jewelry is important to keeping the look you love. But, not all pieces should be treated equally. In this article, I’m going to share how to take care of your beautiful jewelry whether they’re plain silver, tinted with patina, or include stone settings.

Know your jewelry
Sterling silver is an alloy (92.5% silver and 7.5% copper) which reacts with sulfur compounds in the air causing the metal to discolor and darken naturally. While argentium and fine silver are more resilient to this process, they both can still develop some tarnish too. Certain styles of silver jewelry have intentional areas of darkening or coloring to create depth and highlight texture, called the patina. Because patina is a surface treatment it can easily scrub off. Be mindful that intentional patina is a part of the jewelry's character, and some degree of natural wear and variation is expected over time.

Store your jewelry properly
Store jewelry in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight that can cause some gemstones to fade. Each piece should be stored separately to prevent scratching and tangling. Use jewelry boxes with compartments or soft pouches. Or, airtight containers which can slow down the tarnishing process. You can also use anti-tarnish strips to absorb sulfides and other gases, protecting your silver while stored.

Daily care and considerations
Air isn’t the only reactive substance. Avoid exposing your silver jewelry to harsh chemicals – including chlorinated pools, household cleaners, and body products – or harsh environments, like hot tubs or saunas, which can affect some stones and metals. Apply lotions, perfumes, and other body care products before putting on your jewelry. Take your jewelry off before engaging in activities that may expose it to chemicals, such as house cleaning or swimming. Handle your jewelry with clean hands to avoid transferring oils and dirt.

Don’t start cleaning your silver yet!
Before diving into any cleaning method, keep your jewelry safe and beautiful by keeping the following in mind:

- Understand the materials and gemstones used in your jewelry. Always check the care instructions provided by the maker or seller (if provided), as different stones and metals may have specific care requirements.

- Inspect your jewelry first! Ensure that clasps and closures are secure to prevent loss. If you find any loose or damaged stones, take the piece to a jeweler for repair before cleaning. A jeweler can also address deep scratches.

- Be cautious with gemstones! Some cleaning methods may not be suitable for certain stones and some settings require extra care to avoid damage. When in doubt, seek a professional.

- Avoid excessive cleaning and always test any cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that it doesn't negatively impact your jewelry.

- Be cautious not to scratch your jewelry during cleaning. Use a soft, dry cloth or toothbrush to gently remove any loose dirt or dust from your jewelry, being careful with areas around stones.

- Cleaning silver jewelry with patina requires a gentle approach to avoid removing or damaging the desired finish. Stay away from harsh chemicals, commercial cleaners, or abrasive materials, as they can strip away the intentional patina.

Start with basic cleaning
A mild soap solution is the simplest way to clean silver. Just mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water. Gently scrub the silver jewelry with a soft toothbrush or cloth. Be cautious not to use excessive pressure to preserve any patina, or if the jewelry has delicate or intricate settings. Then rinse thoroughly with clean water and pat dry.

Abrasive scrub for stubborn spots
This method works well for plain silver without patina. Baking soda is a great abrasive to tackle stubborn tarnish and minimal scratches because it acts like very fine-grit sand paper. But, this also means that baking soda can turn a mirror finish into matte. Personally, I like matte for some pieces, so this is personal preference. Create a paste by mixing baking soda with water until it has a toothpaste-like consistency. Apply the paste to your silver jewelry using a soft cloth or sponge, then gently rub, rinse, and dry thoroughly.

Acid cleaning for mirror finish
This method should only be used for plain silver pieces without stones or patina. Do not use this method on jewelry with gemstones, as acids may affect them. Both lemon juice and vinegar work quite well without scratching the silver surface like baking soda does, making it ideal for that mirror finish. There are two ways of using these acids. Dampen a soft cloth with fresh-squeezed lemon juice or vinegar, gently rub your jewelry, and rinse. Or, if you’re piece has stubborn tarnish, make a mix of 50/50 water and lemon juice or vinegar and soak the piece overnight before rinsing.

A variety of commercial cleaners
If your jewelry contains specific gemstones, consider using a commercial jewelry cleaner formulated for those stones. Some cleaners may come in the form of wipes, creams, or dips. Follow the product instructions carefully, and ensure that the cleaner is safe for both the silver and the stones. Test any cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire piece. Do some research and choose a reputable brand.

Polishing cloths are amazing
Great for pieces with patina recesses, polishing cloths easily allow you to target only the highlights or areas you want to brighten. Use a soft, non-abrasive polishing cloth designed for silver to gently polish your jewelry. Lightly buff the jewelry to maintain the patina while removing fingerprints or light tarnish. Be careful not to catch the cloth on prongs or settings, which could bend or loosen them.

Consider professional care
You may want to take your jewelry to a professional jeweler for periodic cleaning and inspection, especially for pieces that have intricate or delicate settings, items with intentional patina, or if they’re valuable or sentimental to you.

I want you to love your jewelry – whether created by me or someone else – for many years to come. By following these tips, you can help prolong the life and beauty of your jewelry collection.

Let’s Make Our World Beautiful, Together!
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