When you purchase silver jewelry, the first thing to remember is that silver is a soft metal. Even a heavy silver ring will bend if enough force is added to it–which means, you should take off your ring before lifting anything heavy. Another thing to bear in mind is how you store your jewelry when it is not being worn.
Silver should never be stored with other metals or loose in a jewelry box. You should keep your silver in a small zippered plastic bag by itself. Not only will this keep other jewelry from rubbing the silver (possibly causing scratches), it will protect it from the air, which causes quick tarnishing.
Tarnishing is caused by oxidization and moisture in the air. It first appears as a golden hue on the silver, but quickly turns black.
Never leave silver jewelry lying against bare wood. Wood, especially oak, contains an acid that will mar the surface of the silver. Paper and cardboard, since they are wood pulp products, will have the same effect, so avoid storing silver in envelopes or small cardboard boxes also.
Silver jewelry should always be cleaned with a soft cotton or flannel cloth. Synthetic materials can cause scratching. You can also purchase a silver cleaning cloth, which has anti-tarnish ingredients, and keep it inside your jewelry box for quick cleaning. You can also use a child’s toothbrush to get into intricate scroll work or patterns.
For quick cleaning of silver, such as removing makeup or light dirt, use a small amount of liquid detergent or soap to about a half cup of warm water. Using your cloth, wipe the solution the jewelry, rinse under clean warm water, and dry thoroughly. If using the toothbrush, scrub gently with the solution and rinse.
To remove tarnish or heavier dirt buildup, you will need to use special silver cleaner. Silver cleaners come in both a paste and a liquid form. Liquids are also known as silver dips.
To use a paste, the best method is to scoop a small amount on your cloth or brush and gently work it in to the crevices of the scroll work or pattern. Work in a straight line motion, as all cleansers include some form of abrasive and a circular motion may cause severe scratching. Allow the paste to dry then use another clean cloth to wipe the excess away. You can also rinse the piece under warm water and dry thoroughly.
A liquid, or silver dip, works by dipping the jewelry into the solution, rinsing and wiping the piece dry. The easiest way to use a dip is to pour a small amount into a coffee cup or shot glass and dip your silver into the liquid. The results are almost instantaneous.
If your piece includes gemstones of any kind, cleaning requires much more care. Both forms of cleansers can dull the polished finish off the gemstone. Silver dips are almost out of the question for a piece that includes stones that are porous in nature, such as Lap is or Turquoise, as the stones will break down from the absorption of the chemicals.
The best solution is a paste, using caution not to touch the stones. Work in small areas until the piece is tarnish free. Rinse with warm water and dry immediately.
As you clean your silver jewelry, remember that small amounts of tarnish will give the piece an antique look. The more you wear your jewelry, the less you will have to clean it. With proper care and storage, your silver jewelry will bring you many years of wear and enjoyment.
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