Silver is one of the most popular metals when it comes to jewellery because it’s perfect for office wear or everyday use. However, despite its many virtues, a lot of people think twice before buying silver jewellery. This is because they’re all too aware that silver can get tarnished very easily. After being exposed to the air and because of oxidative reactions with sulphur, silver often develops a black coat. This coating might look unsightly, but the good news is, it doesn’t cause permanent damage. Once you remove the tarnish (which can be done easily enough) your silver jewellery will look as good as new. So don’t let the threat of tarnish stop you from buying beautiful pieces of silver jewellery. Here are five tips that will help you prevent your silver from tarnishing and what to do if it does.
1. Wear it in the right order
Silver can be a very finicky metal, there are plenty of triggers that can cause it to tarnish. To keep your jewellery shiny, you need to shield it from as many chemicals as possible. When you’re getting ready to go out, make sure your silver jewellery is the last thing you put on before heading out. This protects it to a large extent from your lotions, perfumes, hair spray and makeup. By contrast, when you return home, your silver jewellery should be the first thing you remove. Again, this prevents it from coming into contact with harmful chemicals. It’s also important that you don’t wear silver jewellery while swimming, doing dishes or having a shower.
2. Store them in airtight containers or bags as tarnish is caused due to exposure to air
To slow down the tarnishing process, your silver jewellery should come into contact with as little air as possible. Wrap each individual piece of silver in tissue and store it in airtight Ziploc bags. You could even store them in air-tight containers if you have them. Never store rubber bands with silver or use rubber bands to close bags containing silver. As rubber bands begin to age, they release sulphur, which can accelerate tarnishing. One of the most effective ways you can prevent tarnishing is to store silver with silica packets. Silica packets are generally found in shoe boxes or with sunglasses to remove excess moisture. Instead of throwing them in the trash, store your silver with them to keep it looking as good as new. If you don’t have any silica packets lying around, a stick of chalk will work just as well.
3. Polish it occasionally with a lint-free cloth to avoid scratches and maintain shine
Silver is a very soft metal and can easily get scratched if you aren’t careful. Don’t try to remove tarnish with an abrasive cloth because this can just make things worse. Instead, search for soft anti-tarnish wipes that can work miracles against tarnish. These wipes are soaked in a solution that can absorb excess oxygen and sulphur from the air. Both oxygen and sulphur are like kryptonite for your silver. By preventing them from coming into contact with them, anti-tarnish wipes can keep your silver tarnish-free. However, these wipes are only effective as a preventative treatment. Once tarnish sets in, they won’t be able to do much to remove it. So to prevent your jewellery from getting tarnished in the first place, wipe it down regularly with anti-tarnish wipes.
4. If the pieces are too fragile, take them to a professional jeweller for a thorough cleaning
If you have very delicate earrings you’re afraid might get damaged if you try to treat it yourself, leave it to the professionals. Professional treatment is also your only option if your jewellery is severely tarnished. Jewellery experts have special equipment that can remove layers of tarnish that have built up and reveal sparkling silver underneath. They’re also your best option if you feel you might unintentionally harm your silver if you try doing it yourself.
5. Opt for DIY silver cleaning solutions instead of commercial ones
Commercial tarnish-removing products are effective but can be very pricey. Thankfully, there are plenty of DIY remedies you can use that work just as well. One trick that works better than most other silver tarnish hacks is the combination of aluminium foil, white vinegar and baking soda. To remove tarnish with these ingredients, bring water to a boil with a sheet of aluminium foil inside it, shiny side up. Once it boils, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and then drop your tarnished silver into it. After about 15 seconds (or more depending on how bad the tarnish is), remove your jewellery and buff it dry with a microfiber cloth. Your silver will look so shiny you can be forgiven for thinking it was magic. However, never use baking soda directly on silver to scrub it because it can be too abrasive.