How to Care for your 925 Sterling Silver Jewellery

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Silver is an incredibly precious, shiny and desirable metal. Wearing that special piece of sterling silver jewellery
is a joy, except for one small, inevitable thing - tarnish.

Certainly, part of the natural charm of silver, is that over time it will change appearance and develop a beautiful
patina but when that discolouration becomes an unsightly yellow or eventually a purple-black coating, it makes
it very difficult to appreciate the beauty beneath.

WHAT IS TARNISH?
Tarnish occurs as a result of silver reacting with Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) and Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) in the air. 
The speed at which your sterling silver will tarnish depends on many things eg. the area that you live (humidity,
near pollution, volcanoes etc.), the pH levels of your skin, chemicals you are exposed to, the type of water in your
area (eg. bore water will add to tarnish), how your silver is stored and even the food you eat! 

Copper, which is often used as an alloy in 925 sterling silver, reacts with oxygen too and produces its own tarnish,
contributing to the affect.

The only practical solution is to learn which substances accelerate tarnish and to try and limit the exposure your
silver jewellery has to them.

Sterling silver should avoid contact with the following:
 - Hair dyes
 - Swimming (chlorinated and salt water)
 - Exercise (sweating)
 - Cigarette smoke 
 - Some paints
 - Detergents containing phosphates
 - Body lotions, perfumes, hair sprays, sunscreens, oils
 - Foods including onion, egg yolk, mustard, salt, vinegar, salad dressings and olives

Things like turpentine, nail polish remover (containing acetone), bleach, ammonia and alcohol will not only breakdown
the silver in your jewellery, possibly damaging it beyond repair, they may also cause pitting to your gemstones.

STORING YOUR SILVER JEWELLERY
Sterling silver is best stored in a cool, dry place (heat and moisture speed up the tarnishing process); preferably in
acid-free tissue (not regular tissue paper) or a tarnish resistant cloth. Wrapping pieces separately in a moisture free
plastic bag will delay tarnish but make sure the silver does not directly touch the bag.

Try adding a piece of white chalk to your storage area. Chalk is an old remedy, reported to prevent tarnish. Silica packs
(little sachets commonly found in medicine bottles or with new shoes) can also be placed in your jewellery container to
absorb moisture. Alternatively, buy some anti-tarnish strips. These need to be replaced every few months though.
Once tarnish has occurred, you need to know how to eliminate it without damaging your silver jewellery.

CLEANING YOUR 925 STERLING SILVER JEWELLERY
Silver is a soft metal, so when cleaning your silver, you must be sure to take care. Even mild polishes will cause abrasion
with some silver being removed every time you polish.

Clean with soap and water (not detergent), polish with a soft cloth (not tissue) and dry very well. Soap may dull silver but
detergents may stain if not rinsed off thoroughly. Do not use toothpaste. It will scratch.

For general cleaning, use just a polishing cloth, as gentle rubbing and buffing alone will remove mild tarnishing. Polishing
cloths are ideal as they are usually impregnated with a polishing compound, last a long time and give an amazing shine. The
only limitation is it cannot easily reach grooves and crevices.

Commercial dips and polishes (even ones designed for use on silver jewellery) can be quite harsh and should only be
reserved for heavy tarnish. After using, rinse silver thoroughly in water and polish dry, as residues can cause silver to tarnish
faster. Incorrect use may cause your silver to turn in colour and it may never look the same again.

It should be noted that these cleaners may remove the colour and polish from some gemstones, such as turquoise, opal and
pearl and they should NEVER be used on rhodium plated jewellery, as it will damage the finish. Steam and hot water cleaning
methods are great for metals but not for delicate stones either.

A safe way to clean silver along with most fragile gems is with an ionic cleaner. This method uses electrolysis combined with a
cleaning solution. It does not use ultrasonic sound waves, ammonia or other harsh chemicals. Remember not to use gloves as
the rubber emits sulphurs that damage silver.

Chemical electrolysis is generally not recommended on oxidised silver as it can alter the finish and caution should be taken with 
plated pieces too (including rhodium), as it can strip the plating.

You could also try this home-made recipe:
 - Line the bottom of a glass or plastic container with aluminum foil.
 - Combine hot water with 2tsp baking soda and 1tsp salt.
 - Immerse jewellery ensuring it makes contact with the foil.
 - A chemical reaction will occur, transferring the tarnish from your jewellery to the foil.
Be careful with fragile stones, as they might crack under the heat.

Remember; enjoy wearing your 925 sterling silver jewellery. Don’t tuck it away for special occasions; it will not tarnish any less.
But just as importantly, take care of it and it will last a lifetime to be passed down as an heirloom for generations to come.

About The Author...
Shiny Pleasures is a 100% Australian owned and operated online seller of  925 sterling silver jewellery.
If you would like to see our latest designs, check out our eBay store at  http://stores.ebay.com.au/Shiny-Pleasures-Jewellery

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