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Care Guides

How to Clean Silver Jewelry

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Silver jewelry is highly susceptible to tarnishing. This is how to clean silver to keep tarnish from forming and how to polish your dull silver jewelry to return its luster and shine.

How Tarnish Forms
So why does tarnish form on your silver jewelry in the first place?

Silver jewelry is made of silver and a second alloy metal to improve the pure silver’s durability. Sterling silver, for instance, is 92.5% pure silver and the remaining 7.5% is copper and other metals. The other alloy metals are what react to the moisture in the air and cause your silver jewelry to tarnish.

In turn, your silver jewelry will inevitably tarnish. In fact, it will tarnish faster in humid regions or cities with lots of air pollution.

How to Prevent Silver Jewelry from Tarnishing
While tarnished silver jewelry is unavoidable, there are precautionary measures that can slow the tarnishing process.

1. Wipe down your silver jewelry at every night.
Use a soft cloth to gently clean your silver jewelry after a day of wear. This will remove any residual oils or moisture and keep build-up from forming.

2. Store your silver jewelry in a jewelry box with anti-tarnish strips.
Whether you’re simply taking off your silver necklace for the night or stowing it away for a few weeks, pack it away in a cloth-lined jewelry box. Slip in a few anti-tarnish strips too; these inexpensive strips absorb the air pollutants that cause your jewelry to tarnish. In a pinch, you can also use the silica gel packets that come in shoeboxes or handbags in lieu of anti-tarnish strips.

3. Remove silver jewelry before showering.
The humidity of your steamy shower will accelerate the tarnishing process. So, leave your jewelry outside of the bathroom. Similarly, take off your jewelry before jumping in the pool or basking in a sauna.

How to Clean Tarnished Silver Jewelry
Tarnish can usually be wiped away from silver jewelry with a specially-designed silver polishing cloth. A few words of caution before you begin, though: if your jewelry contains any gemstones, double-check with your jeweler on how to safely clean your unique item. Hard stones like diamonds can endure most cleaning products, but softer stones, like emeralds and turquoise, are easily damaged and should never be dipped in cleaning solution.

1. Rinse your silver jewelry with warm water.
2. Pat your piece dry with a lint-free cloth.
3. Rub your jewelry with a silver-cleaning cloth. Work in up-and-down or side-to-side motions (not in circles) until all of the tarnish is wiped away.
4. If stubborn tarnish persists, use a silver-cleaning fluid; we recommend Connoisseurs Jewelry Cleaner for Sterling Silver Jewelry. Dip your jewelry into the solution, rinse with warm water and pat it dry with a lint-free cloth.

For more tips on how to care for precious metal jewelry, read our post on the topic here.