How to clean and care for your silver jewellery
Posted on March 05 2017
Being that we love all things silver here at No.47 we thought that it was only right to share our knowledge of how to care for your silver jewellery. Silver tarnishes if it is left unworn for too long that is a fact of life but with the use of this guide that will no longer be a problem for you!
Understanding your silver
Silver tarnishes when oxygen comes into contact with it and creates a bond between the two elements (the same also happens with sulfur but we'll get into that later), over time this build up creates a darkened effect. Hence the commonly used term oxidization.
A lot of silver jewellery has an intentional oxidization effect with excessive polishing you can remove this, which is why you must first determine if the tarnishing is part of the effect before you go cleaning the whole piece.
Our Henry and Archibald Cuffs, an example of deliberate oxidization.
1. Wear it!
The first and the best thing you can do for your silver jewellery is to wear it! The natural oils in your skin combined with the general abrasion of day to day life help to keep it clean and prevent a build up of oxidization.
2. Reduce Sulfur exposure
Sulfur binds to silver in the same way that oxygen does. Certain liquids have high sulfur content that can cause tarnishing, the most common example of this is chlorinated water i.e. swimming pools. So don't wear rings in the pool!
Ideally, you would store your jewellery in an air locked or tarnish proof bags though we do appreciate that not many people are going to be that committed. The most realistic method of preventing tarnishing is to just try and wear all your jewellery regularly. Of course, we all have favorites but just try and keep every piece in rotation, wearing each piece a few times a month should do it.
Just polishing your silver with a silver polish is one of the most effective methods of cleaning and removing oxidization build up. You can buy special jewellery polishing cloths to do this, however from our experience a microfiber cloth or soft flannel will work just as well.
Just be sure not use a paper towel or anything where the fibers can detach causing the silver to scratch (if like us, you don't mind your silver scratched and worn in, then ignore this part). To minimize scratching you will also want to polish in one direction and not in circles which will help to prevent the scratches being highlighted.
Be sure to wash your jewellery after you have finished to remove any excess polish.
Homemade silver cleaning
If you have done a little research into silver cleaning before you will no doubt be aware that there are numerous 'at home' methods for cleaning your silver, here are our favorites.
**A number of these methods involve fully submerging the jewellery which can be damaging to any stones set into the piece so we'd recommend sticking with the off the shelf polish and avoiding the stone.**
Soap and Water:
A little warm water and an ammonia and phosphate free washing up liquid can help to remove any trapped dirt in and around the hard to reach areas of the piece.
Baking soda and water:
You may have heard that a non-whitening, non-gel toothpaste can be a good substitute for commercial silver cleaners, but these can be hard to find and if you get it wrong this will tarnish your jewellery further.
Instead, we recommend making a paste of baking soda and water and use a clean cloth to apply a pea-sized amount to the silver and polish. Afterward, just run the silver piece or pieces under running warm water, and dry with a clean cloth.
White vinegar and baking soda:
Use this gentle cleanser to remove heavy tarnish that’s preventing you from polishing your silver. Soak the tarnished piece in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp of baking soda (don't worry its meant to fizz) for two to three hours, then rinse and dry.