With a little bit of care & a few tips your sterling silver jewellery can shine & look like new for many years to come. There is a lot of advice on the internet about jewellery care but we would like to start off with two things you and your silver jewellery should run screaming from.
- Do not EVER use silver dips - we don't recommend the use of silver 'dips' or liquids. These wildly available products work by dissolving the silver sulphide and can damage the surface of the silver, wearing it down over time. These cleaners can give your jewellery a temporary shine but pieces will tarnish much more quickly resulting in your jewellery having to be cleaned much more frequently once the surface you have broken down the surface.
- Toothpaste – Although toothpaste is mild abrasive and can help to reduce the visibility of minor scratches, if not used properly it can cause more damage and scratch your silver and leave a dull film. The best option for removing scratches on your jewellery is to have it professionally polished by your local independent jeweller.
So now that’s out of the way, here’s our guide to the cleaning basics.
- Silver jewellery with no gemstones or pearls can be washed in warm water with a mild detergent. Completely dry with a soft lint free, or nonabrasive cloth before storing.
- Extra tip, don’t use kitchen paper towels to dry your jewellery as it can seriously scratch delicate finishes .
- If you have discovered some older Sterling Silver jewellery that has been unloved for a while, you can lavish it with warm soapy water and gently use a soft natural bristle toothbrush to clean, dry throughly as above.
- Specialist silver polishing cloths are also ideal companions to your jewellery. 100% cotton infused with special silver cleaners. These clever silver dusters will help bring your jewellery back to life on a daily basis, essentially lifting off dirt, grease and fingerprints. Simply rub over your jewellery...and voila gleaming jewellery!
- On larger items & silver tableware, try a polish specifically for silver like Silvo (i.e not Brasso or pledge!). Simply shake well, apply with a soft cloth and leave to dry. Gently rub off with a clean soft cloth and get ready to discover some serious sparkle.
Make your own eco-friendly silver cleaner.
This is an eco-friendly and simple jewellery cleaning method which does a great job of removing tarnish. Best of all, you should have all the ingredients in your cupboard.
Cut a piece of aluminium foil big enough to cover the bottom of a glass or ceramic small bowl and line the bowl with the aluminium foil shiny side up. Then pour a cup of hot water into the bowl and mix in the following:
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- 1 tablespoon of gentle colourless and fragrance free detergent
Put the jewellery to be cleaned into the bowl so it sits on top of the foil and is covered by the solution. After 5 to 10 minutes you can remove the jewellery and discard the solution and the foil, which is likely to have turned a grey colour. Repeat if necessary. Be sure to rinse your jewellery well after this process and then pat it dry.
Do not use the baking soda method for items with Swarovski crystals. Sterling Silver jewellery set with Swarovski crystals need a little extra care, use a soft toothbrush with warmish water to clean and pat dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Jewellery set with gemstones can generally use the above cleaning methods at your own risk. However, never use silver dip or ultrasonic cleaners with pearls, turquoise, opal, lapis lazuli and other soft gemstones. Another point to note is emeralds are particularly fragile & we only recommend these being cleaned by a professional jeweller. If you have any doubt, we recommend using the less risky options of soap and water, along with a polishing cloth. This article from the International Gem Society gives specific details about caring for gemstones and is a great resource.
Gold Vermeil, Plated, Gilded & Other Special Finishes.
Plating, gilding & gold vermeil are different ways of applying gold to other metals. All of these finishes are delicate to some degree and should be cleaned carefully. The gold surfaces will wear over time, so treat them with care to protect them. Avoid polishing them too vigorously or using harsh cleansers.
Keep in mind any other exceptions for gemstones, enamels and patinas or special finishes such as oxidised & rhodium. You can read more about rhodium finishes HERE.
A little care goes a long way
- Make wearing your jewellery the last thing you do. Makeup, perfumes & hairspray can damage your jewellery so make accessorising your finishing touch to avoid unnecessary contact with chemicals.
- Do not swim or shower in your jewellery. Chlorine & detergents are the enemy of silver jewellery, the harsh chemicals can damage to surface of your beloved pieces.
- Remove your jewellery before exercising . Wrestling with a wayward necklace while doing the downward dog is not a good look anyway!
- You may want to show off your jewellery on the beach but the direct sunlight, sand and salt water won't do it any favours, save it to wow when having cocktails later.
- Remove your jewellery when going to bed. There’s nothing worse than being strangled at 3am at the best of times so removing your jewellery helps prevent stress on delicate clasps fittings.
Become a storage expert.
- Sterling silver loves being being cool, dark spaces. Storing your jewellery in an airtight jewellery boxes or soft pouches is ideal and always separate your pieces as they can scratch each other.
- Don’t throw away those little bags of Silica gel that turn in nearly everything you buy. They are great for removing moisture which can accelerate tarnishing & create a little less waste in the world
- Give your jewellery a loving touch with a quick rub over with a lint free cloth or specialist polishing cloth after every wear & before you pop it away.
- To stop chain & necklaces getting tangled make sure that all chains are done up. Necklaces with extender chains should be done up on the last hole.
you can find more storage tips on our previous blog post HERE
A Worthy Bit of Old-Fashioned Wisdom
There's an old adage in the medical community: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Surprisingly, this also applies to keeping sterling silver jewellery looking new and beautiful. With proper care using only an inexpensive jewellery polishing cloth, a well-constructed piece of silver jewellery will maintain its beauty and shine for decades.
And to finish our little guide the best tip of all is…..
The more you wear your sterling silver jewellery the less care it will generally need so there’s no better reason to wear your jewellery collection every day!