Sterling Silver Care - 5 Ways To Keep Your Handmade Jewellery Looking Its Best
Updated: Apr 15
As a jeweller I have to clean a lot of jewellery! I’m often asked by my customers what the best way to look after and clean their jewellery is, so here are my top tips.
Sterling silver jewellery can tarnish over time, which causes it to lose its shine and become more of a dull grey, but don’t worry, it’s easy to get it back to looking like new once you know how to!
When cleaning your jewellery it’s important to consider what it’s made out of. I work mainly in sterling silver, and occasionally in gold. All sterling silver jewellery over a certain weight (around 7 grams) legally has to be hallmarked - but don’t worry if you have bought something as sterling silver and it isn’t hallmarked, as rings and small pendants are sometimes under the hallmarking weight.
1 - Jewellery Storage - Preventing tarnishing is easier than cleaning it!
All my work is sent out in a printed Ellen Thorpe box and wrapped in acid-free tissue paper. This is the perfect way to store your silver jewellery at home, as you know the jewellery fits the box and it will also stop it from getting scratched or the chain from getting kinked.
Being exposed to the air is one of the main causes of tarnishing, so you can also keep your silver jewellery in a sealed bag, which might be more practical for travelling than a box!
2 - Perfumes & Lotions
Like air, the chemicals in the various lotions and potions we put on our bodies can also cause silver to tarnish much more rapidly. The easiest way to prevent this is to follow this rule: Always put your jewellery on last. This means that any perfume or body lotion has the chance to dry and therefore is less likely to be transferred on to the silver and cause tarnishing.
3 - Cleaning Your Silver Jewellery
The easiest way to clean your silver jewellery once it’s begun to tarnish is to use a silver cloth. These can be purchased online, and are very soft so won’t cause any damage or scratches. If you are cleaning a silver snake chain or cable make
sure to use long strokes along the chain so as not to kink it.
This method is perfect for all silver jewellery, but especially any with stones or glass, where using other chemicals could be risky.
Silver cloths are embedded with a small amount of silver cleaning solution so to get the longest life out of your silver cloth, keep it in a sealed bag so it doesn't dry out.
4 - Other Cleaning Solutions - Silver Dip or Vinegar, Bicarbonate of Soda & Tinfoil
These methods are better for people with more confidence in jewellery cleaning.
White vinegar & bicarb of soda (the DIY method) - There are lots of in depth descriptions of how to do this online, with pictures, so if you’re not sure there’s plenty of help out there.
- Firstly line the bottom of a bowl with tinfoil, shiny side up.
- Then add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of bicarb of soda.
- Add ½ cup of white vinegar slowly to the bowl, it will fizz!
- Mix well, you want all the granules to dissolve.
- Then add 1 cup of boiling water, stir and then drop in your silver jewellery.
- After about 10 minutes your jewellery should look clean, rinse them in water and dry thoroughly.
Silver Dip - you can purchase this online and it’s particularly good for matte silver jewellery which you wouldn’t want to polish with a silver cloth. Do not dip jewellery with stones, glass or pearls.
Wear gloves whilst doing this.
- Dip your silver jewellery into the solution and leave it there for around 10 seconds, not much longer than that.
- Then make sure to rinse the jewellery well in soapy water, and then rinse again in water, making sure there's no soap residue left on the silver.
- Next - and this step is very important - dry your jewellery, either on a radiator or with a hairdryer. Not rinsing and drying your silver jewellery properly can lead to faster tarnishing, which is one of the disadvantages of this method.
Silver Dip is best for when you have a lot of jewellery to clean, which is why it’s often used in the jewellery industry.
5 - Ask The Experts To Help
If you’re worried about damaging your beautiful handmade silver jewellery, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help! It might also just be faster and less hassle to ask a professional to do it for you.
I am happy to have my work sent back to me for a re-finish and polish, and would also be happy to have a look at any other jewellery you might want to be cleaned. If you would like to discuss having a full jewellery collection clean please call on 07988330487, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prices will depend on the amount and complexity of the job.
Final Thought - Buy Quality Jewellery
The best way to ensure that your jewellery lives a long and happy life is to buy well made pieces, store it well and clean it regularly.
Now that you know how to confidently clean your sterling silver jewellery, there’s nothing stopping you from growing your collection! So go ahead and reward yourself with some unique and colourful jewellery, handmade in North Wales.