Have you ever picked up a pair of earrings or chain from your jewelry box only to put it back, because it was so tarnished that you could not get yourself to put it on? Hopefully, I can pass on some tips to keep your silver tarnish-free.
There are a couple of things to know about silver. The higher the content of silver the less it will tarnish. Silver is made with alloys, which encourage tarnishing. Thai silver and fine silver (99% pure) have higher silver content, so they do not tarnish; however, you will pay a higher price for these. There is a new silver called Argentium that is priced in between fine silver and sterling silver, but does not tarnish. Sterling silver has a higher percentage of alloys, so it tarnishes faster; however, it is much more affordable.
There are a number of things that you can do to slow or stop tarnish. It is oxygen that promotes tarnish. To keep oxygen away from your silver, you can place your silver pieces in plastic bags, squeeze out all of the air and seal the bag. Those silver earrings will be ready to wear with no cleaning necessary. Silica gel packs (those little packets that remove moisture) placed in your jewelry box will also help. You can also purchase anti-tarnish strips by 3-M, which will keep your silver from tarnishing by placing one in with your silver. Lastly, there are a lot of products now available that makes cleaning silver very easy and the tarnish is very easily removed.
Silver cleaner is readily available. You can pick it up in your local grocery store. There is paste and there is liquid where you just dip. You do need to be careful if you have natural stones in your piece. In this case I would use a Q-tip, being very careful not to get the cleaner on the stone. The safest way for pieces with stones is to use a polishing cloth. The cloth has cleaning elements embedded in the cloth. Just rub the piece with the cloth and the tarnish comes off leaving your silver with a beautiful shiny finish. The cloth will become black with use from the tarnish; however, you can keep using it for a very long time as the black does not come off onto your jewelry and it keeps cleaning. This cleaning cloth can be found in most stores that sell jewelry or through the Internet. I hope this information will help keep your silver clean and ready to wear at a moment’s notice - KEEP ON SHINING!
Debbie Valline, is the creator and artist for "Valline", custom designed, hand forged jewelry specializing in mixed metals ranging from Sterling silver to copper and brass including unusual stones and beads from around the world. She also is a partnering artist with "To Dye For" specializing in custom dyed wearable art. Debbie is proud to be involved with Local Colors Fine Art Gallery and is currently vice-president. She currently lives in Riverton, UT with her husband, Jim, and all of their outdoor toys.