There’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting a brand new piece of jewelry—whether you treated yourself to something special or received a meaningful gift from a loved one. When you first put on that glistening stackable gemstone ring or simple sterling silver pendant necklace, you relish the look of the smooth, untarnished metal and the glinting light reflecting off of it as you move.
But of course, nothing stays new forever; and jewelry can eventually show signs of wear. When it comes to sterling silver, that may mean smudging, dirt buildup, and tarnishing. It’s completely normal and expected; sterling silver tarnishes over time as the metal oxidizes. In fact, the more it’s exposed to direct sunlight and moisture the faster your sterling jewelry will tarnish. Luckily there are ways to minimize the tarnishing and to clean your pieces when they do start to show signs of discoloration. Follow these tips to get—and keep—your sterling silver looking bright and shiny, so you can enjoy that exhilarating “new jewelry” feeling again.
How to Clean Your Sterling Silver
For smudges and dirt, use a soft toothbrush, mild liquid soap, and lukewarm water to gently brush away buildup; soak the pieces in sudsy water for 10-20 minutes if they need some extra TLC. Once you’re done, lightly pat dry and polish with a clean, non-abrasive cloth. To remove tarnish, use a silver-specific dip polish like Wright’s. When cleaning jewelry that contains soft gemstones like emeralds and amethysts, be sure to check if the polish is safe for those stones.
How to Keep Sterling Silver from Tarnishing
Wear It: It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you wear your sterling silver jewelry, the less likely it is to tarnish. While moisture in the way of waters, lotions, and sweat can cause tarnish (more on that below), your body’s natural oils actually help clean the metal and slow down the oxidation process that causes tarnishing. Fortunately, our meaningful necklaces and rings are designed to be worn every day!
Minimize Moisture: Remove your jewelry when you’re swimming, bathing, or exercising (if you tend to sweat); and avoid contact with household cleaners, lotions, perfumes, and other high-moisture cosmetics. Whenever possible, take off your rings when you wash your hands or apply moisturizer and avoid spraying perfume near your necklace.
Avoid Scratching: Silver is a softer metal (ever accidentally bend an earring post?), and as such it’s prone to scratching. Leave it in your jewelry box when you’re gardening, lifting weights, or spending the day at the beach. Speaking of storage, to keep your favorite sterling earrings, rings, and necklaces from rubbing up against other jewelry in your collection, make sure to store each item individually in soft, protective pouches or boxes.