Monday, March 26, 2012

Preventing Tarnish on Sterling Silver (tips 3)

This is the 3rd in my series on quick tips for jewellery care. Today I am posting some snappy tips for preventing tarnish on Sterling silver.  I will look at cleaning methods another week.

Tarnish is a brownish discolouration on silver that is caused by sulphuric compounds in air. It can be accelerated by certain substances so avoid or minimise exposure to the following:

*Air pollutants such as smoke and fumes, including cigarette smoke, solid fuel and gas fumes.

*Chlorine in swimming pools etc.
*Lotions and potions including sun tan oil, hairspray, perfume etc. Let them absorb into your skin  first before putting on your bling.

*Certain materials such as newspaper, rubber (including rubber bands and latex gloves,) Cling film, Kitchen paper. Not recommended for storing any precious or semi precious metals!

 *Household chemicals including detergents and some paints.

A soap maker I know unwittingly ruined some sterling silver jewellery by wearing it while using lye (caustic soda.) Put your silver and silverware well away before using such chemicals.

 *Some foods such as egg yolk, vinegars, onions and dressings containing them. Some people     deliberately 'oxidise' their silver to give it an antique look by locking it in a plastic bag with an egg yolk for a few hours. I have never tried this so can neither endorse it nor advise against it until I have researched it. (I smell a future blog post...or is that just the egg  heheh?)

Store your silver jewellery to protect it against tarnish as best you can. It's not always a good idea to store it in the box it came in, if it is lined with dark coloured (eg black) flock or foam. In some cases, the dye in the insert can affect the silver if left in contact for long. This type of box is meant for gift presentation not long term storage. You could discard the insert and store the piece inside the box if you also wrap it in acid-free tissue first.

One of the best ways to store silver jewellery is to wrap in acid-free tissue and place in a soft cloth pouch or bag or tarnish resistant plastic baggie. Anti-tarnish strips can be purchased at your local jewellers and can be placed in the bag or in your jewellery box, but don't have them touch the silver and be sure to change them every few months. Follow the instructions on the pack.

As I need to store a lot of jewellery and silver supplies, I invested in tarnish prevention storage boxes with anti-tarnish dividers, available from craft stores and online suppliers. Shop around for the best value or watch out for sale times etc. Even a (clean) plastic lunch box will do if you place anti-tarnish strips in the box and wrap the items in acid-free tissue.

It may seem obvious, but do take off your jewellery regularly. It is not a good idea to wear a favourite piece constantly as it will get coated in sweat and soap scum plus you increase the risk of exposing it to damaging substances mentioned above. If you really do love it, when you take it off, give it a quick wipe with a dry, soft cloth before putting away.

How to Clean Silver Jewellery Quick Tips for Jewellery Care                 

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