'Tarnish' is what we call the discolouration of silver – when silver tarnishes, the metal takes on a yellow or black tint.
Because of how soft the metal is, it is impossible to make jewellery with silver in its pure form. Because of this, even the highest quality silver - sterling silver - is made up of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent of other metals that form an alloy. Some of those other metals, primarily copper, can cause sterling silver to tarnish over time when they interact with moisture that's in the air.
Tarnishing is the discolouration of silver, which results in the metal taking on a yellow or black tint.
With just a little extra care, by following the tips below, you can prevent your silver jewellery from tarnishing, or at least slow down the tarnishing process and keep your silver sparkling for longer.
How to Prevent Silver from Tarnishing
1. Keep Silver Away From Chemicals
Silver tarnishes over time as it reacts with the salt and sulphur in the air, but this process is accelerated when the metal comes in contact with moisture, perspiration, abrasive chemicals such as bleach, and chlorine.
2. Keep Your Silver Dry
While water won’t tarnish your silver, moisture is the main culprit and rapidly speeds up the training process. For this reason, we recommend removing silver jewellery while exercising, preparing food, swimming, bathing, or washing your hands - especially since residue from soap and hand gels can result in a dull surface, even without tarnishing.
3. Store Your Silver Properly
The tarnishing process can also be slowed by taking the time to care for your silver pieces when you aren't wearing them. This involves storing your jewellery properly, in a jewellery box, in a cool, dark part of your home. You can also put a silica gel bag inside, along with your jewellery. These small silica packets absorb humidity and thus help to delay tarnishing
Keeping your jewellery away from humid storage environments and ensuring it is kept dry will help your jewellery look its best.
4. Wear It
You may be tempted to keep your silver locked away as often as possible to prevent tarnishing, however, one of the best and simplest ways to keep your silver jewellery sparkling is to simply wear it! The oils in our skin do an excellent job at ‘cleaning’ the jewellery while we’re on the go, removing grime and slowing the tarnishing process.
5. Clean Your Silver Regularly
However, when the metal begins to look dull or starts to turn black, it is time to give it a good clean and get it back to looking brand new. Simply following the above cleaning guide can result in your silver looking sparkling and brand-new once again. Regular upkeep is best, which is why you may have heard your grandparents talking about ‘polishing the silver’ - it really does help.
Polishing your silver pieces is a method that works best before your jewellery starts to show signs of tarnishing – by following our jewellery cleaning guide as regular maintenance at home, you can keep your silver shining. Bear in mind though that this guide will not be effective for silver that is already tarnished, however it is still recommended that you clean your silver to remove any dust and grime before removing tarnish.
How to Remove Silver Tarnish
Removing silver tarnish is something you can also can achieve with ordinary household ingredients. However, for antique pieces, or pieces with high sentimental value, you may wish to consult a jeweller before attempting to clean your jewellery, so they can advise you on the best way to go about this.
You will need:
- a glass or ceramic bowl
- a piece of foil large enough to cover the bottom of the bowl
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon of gentle, colourless, odourless dish soap.
1. Place the foil in the cup
2. Add the water and the rest of the ingredients and stir
3. Place the jewellery pieces in the bowl and leave to sit
4. After 5-10 minutes, check on the jewellery. The water may have turned grey. If the jewellery is still showing signs of tarnish, replace the mixture and repeat the process
5. Once the jewellery is tarnish-free, thoroughly rinse to remove all traces of the solution and then dry thoroughly to slow down future tarnishing and give your pieces some added shine.