With all the extra hand washing, hand gels, sun creams and other lotions we’ve been using on our hands and bodies over the last few months I’ve recently had a few messages asking how is best to keep bring back the sparkle to dull tarnished silver. And of course now more than ever we should be giving our jewellery - especially rings - a regular clean, so here are a few of my top tips for making your precious pieces sparkle again and help prevent them from tarnishing again in the future.
Why Does Silver Tarnish?
I’ve been asked these kind of questions in the past and more often recently... ‘Why has my silver necklace turned black?’ or ‘Why have my rings gone dull when they’ve been in my jewellery box?’ and ‘Does the discolouring mean my jewellery isn’t real silver?‘
Tarnish isn’t an indicator of poor quality metal, even Sterling Silver will inevitably turn black over time if left unworn and exposed to the air. Sterling silver (or 925 Silver) is an alloy of pure silver and contains other metals such as copper. When left exposed to chemicals in the air the air and on our skin, these metals react which causes them to blacken. Tarnish is inevitable in all silver jewellery but is sometimes accelerated by certain substances we use in our daily lives. Body lotions, sun creams and, most recently, hand-sanitisers can cause the process to speed up making you think you have damaged your jewellery.
The good news is there is a simple fix that you can do at home to remove tarnish and bring back the shine to your jewels.
Top Tips for Preventing Tarnish
Remove your jewellery when you shower or bathe, particularly on the beach, in the sea and in chlorinated water. Chlorinated water in particular can accelerate tarnishing of silver.
Avoid spraying perfume or applying creams directly onto your jewellery - your jewellery should be the last thing you put on when getting ready.
Keep away from extreme temperatures, humidity and sunlight, and avoid wearing your jewellery when using bleach and other harsh household cleaners.
When removing your jewellery at the end of the day, wipe it over with a specialist polishing cloth that is impregnated with silver cleaner to help remove tarnish - this can help delay tarnishing of your pieces as it forms a protective barrier. You can use these cloths until they are black – they shouldn’t be washed.
The single best thing you can do to prevent tarnish is to wear your jewellery! While wearing, the friction between your skin and clothes will naturally help prevent the build up of tarnish.
Top Tips for Removing Tarnish
There are lots of products on the market that you can buy to clean your jewellery but one simple and effective way to give them a clean is to use warm soapy water.
Add a few drops of mild washing up liquid to bowl of lukewarm water
Soak jewellery in the bowl for up to ten minutes
Use a soft bristled brush (a child’s toothbrush is perfect!) to gently scrub your jewellery, paying attention to any hard-to-reach places where dirt may be hidden
Rinse well in clean water to remove all soap and dry with a soft cloth.
Cleaning Jewellery with Gemstones
Most gemstones are quite robust, but if your jewellery contains stones then please take a little extra care when cleaning, particularly with softer ones such as pearls, opals, lapis lazuli and turquoise. Do not use silver dip, ultrasonic cleaners or excessively hot water as these softer gemstones can become damaged by the heat or chemicals.
Pearls in particular can be discoloured by soap, perfume and make up, so take extra care with them.
Whilst pearls can be relatively robust given how soft they are, pearls can be scratched by contact with sharp objects or other gemstones so we suggest that you store your Pearls in the box they come in with the clasp fastened. Pearls however, love being exposed to the oils in your skin and so please do wear them frequently – leaving them unworn for a long time in a box can cause them to dehydrate!
Pearls are a natural biological substance and are porous, so avoid anything which could be absorbed by them. Please do not put any hairspray, make-up, perfume or any other such substances where they could contact and be absorbed by the pearls.
Just following these simple tips at least once a month will keep your jewellery looking as good as new for years to come.
All our jewellery comes packaged with a small polishing cloth and card with advice on caring for your jewellery. More information can be found on the Caring for your Jewellery page on our website.