Silver Jewelry Care. Removing Tarnish and Polishing

The first thing I want to say is – Don’t panic. If your sterling silver locket or favorite piece of silver jewelry starts to tarnish, be happy.  For those of us who love antiques – this is a good thing.  Part of the charm of Sterling Silver Jewelry and collectibles is the beautiful patina that they get over time.  Wearing a beautiful Silver Locket can actually help it from tarnishing more than leaving it in your jewelry box.  Depending on the person, oils from your skin can help protect it and slow some of the tarnishing process down.  Most tarnish comes from Sulphur in the air or from items that have Sulphur in them like some wool, rubber bands, Fossil Fuels like Oil, rubber (latex) gloves, etc. Some cosmetics, hair sprays or lotions can speed up tarnishing.  So just to be safe, put your jewelry on just before you go out and take it off as soon as you come home or just clean as needed.  If you notice your jewelry tarnishing rapidly in your jewelry box,  then you might want to try putting your silver jewelry in small little air tight zip-lock bags. Use the smallest bags you can find.  In some areas of the country there is a lot of sulphur in the air and this is the biggest cause of Silver Tarnish (Sorry: Sulphur, Oklahoma).  Keeping your silver in these little zip plastic bags can really slow down tarnishing.  If you need to slow it down further, then 3-M makes some little anti-tarnish strips that can go into your little bag and absorb sulphur vapors in the air that are a big cause of tarnishing.  These will last 6 to 12 months normally. But if you already have a tarnished piece of silver and  you really want to clean your silver here are a few suggestions.  There are many types of Silver Cleaners on the market.  We have tried many, but only offer silver cleaner that we love. This one is 3-M Tarni-Shield  Silver Polish.  It works great and is gentle on most gemstones in your jewelry and also your skin.  This has a lotion like consistency, so in small recessed areas of  your jewelry, you will have to use a toothbrush to help remove the cleaner while rinsing with water.  Be careful if you are using any of the acid dip type cleaners. These can be quick,  but they will damage gemstones in your jewelry. Never use dip cleaners on any silver item that has been antiqued or oxidized. It will ruin the effect and turn the oxidation white (not a good look). Read the instructions carefully.  Never use these cleaners on silver items with any kind of protective finish like rhodium, etc. Best only for untreated silver chains – a quick dip – less than 10 seconds and rinse well with plenty of water.  Back in the early days, I wanted to clean some cufflinks that were stone with sterling silver bands. I dropped them in the silver dip cleaner and boy, did they bubble. When they emerged and were rinsed with water, the sterling silver was bright and shiny, but the stone cufflinks were ruined. The acid has dissolved the nice sealer that had been applied to the stone to make it shine beautifully. I learned my lesson and have been ever so careful to only use that type of dip cleaner on the right items and only for a few seconds. We also sell a Silver Polishing cloth  that works well on removing light tarnish and provides some additional protection to your jewelry.  Please remember that when you dry your piece off to use a very soft cotton cloth or a cloth that has been designed to clean lenses like eyeglass lenses. These work the best and leave the fewest scratches.  Anytime you polish silver with any type of cloth, you will leave small micro-scratches. Most of the time, you won’t see these, but sometimes you may, especially if your silver has large flat areas.  If these really bother you, then you will need a jeweler to do a fine polish on your piece to remove these small scratches.  Some places will do it free for you and some will charge a small fee.  Hope this helps……Ralph – Silver Mine Gifts

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