Over time, you may notice that your silver jewelry has lost its shine and now looks green or black. When this happens, it means that oxidation has occurred on your jewelry. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide (sulfur) can make silver black because of the chemical reaction. Moreover, silver oxidizes quickly in places with high humidity and lots of light.Another reason for the oxidation is contact with bleach, body lotion, deodorant, perfume, hair spray, and other cosmetics. Further, the natural oils from your skin affect silver. The acidity of your skin is based on the medication you take, consumption of alcohol, and the food you eat. The skin’s acidity level affects silver in varying ways. Your sweat can also speed up the tarnishing of silver. However, the oxidation of your jewelry is an indication that your jewelry is made of silver.
Ways to clean silver
Silver is a lustrous metal. It is naturally soft, so even if mixed with other metals to make it harder, it requires gentle cleaning to prevent scratching the surface. Therefore, it is essential to know the kind of silver you have to know the cleaning method to use.
Pure silver jewelry is rare. The jewelry items you have may be sterling silver instead of pure silver, as copper strengthens sterling silver. However, the copper alloy is what causes sterling silver jewelry to tarnish.
Soap and water
The most common cleaning method is to use a mix of mild dishwashing soap and warm water. Mix the two ingredients until bubbles form, and soak the jewelry in it for 5 to 10 minutes. Use a soft bristle brush to clean crevices. Use warm water to rinse the jewelry, and dry it with a microfiber towel or a silver cloth. Do not use a paper towel as it can scratch the silver.
You can also use soap and water to clean fine silver jewelry with diamonds or precious stones. But it is better to talk to a jeweler before using the cleaning agent. Have them professionally cleaned if you want to protect your fine silver jewelry pieces.
You can use this mild cleaning solution to clean silver rings with semi-precious stones. However, the other cleaning agents listed below can be harmful to porous gemstones.
Mix one part water and two parts baking soda to make a paste. Rub the mixture gently onto the silver jewelry and leave to dry completely. Rinse and dry using a microfiber towel or soft cotton cloth. You can also use cornstarch instead of baking powder with the same ratio.
Olive oil and lemon
Mix 1 tsp olive oil and 1/2 cup lemon juice and dip a clean cloth into it. Gently rub the wet cloth on the silver jewelry until the item shines. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth.
Baking soda and vinegar
Add 1/2 cup white vinegar into two tbsp baking soda. Mix and soak the jewelry in it. Leave the jewelry soaking in the solution for two to three hours. Rinse thoroughly and gently polish the item with a soft microfiber cloth.
You can use a small amount of non-whitening toothpaste diluted with a few drops of water. Then, use a soft bristle brush to clean sterling silver. Do not use the solution if your jewelry is silver-plated.
Taking care of silver chains
Sterling silver chains, and even bracelets, tarnish quickly because of contact with perspiration, perfumes, and lotions. In addition, chains are delicate items and need a unique cleaning method. The tarnish on silver chains is caused by silver sulfide, and one thing that removes them is aluminum foil. Here’s how to do it.
Line a large pan or bowl with aluminum foil, and fill it with hot water. Add 2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 cup baking soda. Stir the mixture and wait for bubbles to form. Put the silver jewelry into the solution and stir gently, but ensure that the pieces do not hit each other on the sides of the bowl or pan. Allow the jewelry to soak in the pan for five minutes before removing and drying the individual items thoroughly with a soft cloth.
You can restore the luster and brilliance of silver jewelry by using the most applicable cleaning method. Likewise, store your jewelry pieces in individual anti-tarnish bags, and place them in a cool, dark place with low humidity.