Sterling silver naturally tarnishes over time but it can be easily cleaned off to make your jewellery look good as new.
For best results clean your jewellery as soon as it starts to show some tarnish (go a slight grey colour, dull or even look dirty).
Why does it tarnish?
Sterling silver .925 is an alloyed metal which means it has a small percentage of another metal (usually copper) mixed in with the silver to make it a harder metal. This small percentage of other metal reacts with oxygen & even the oil on your skin which make it tarnish over time.
Pure silver .999 (made from using silver clay) does not tarnish due to the higher percentage of silver in the metal but it does benefit from a polish every now & then.
Tips to prevent tarnish
Remove your jewellery before bathing, swimming & even using household cleaners to prevent your jewellery from becoming wet.
If your jewellery does get wet, dry it as soon as possible with a soft cloth.
Put your jewellery on last when dressing to avoid contact with perfume or hair spray etc.
Keep it out of direct sunlight.
Give it a quick polish with a silver polishing cloth every now & then.
Store it well when your not wearing.
How to clean your jewellery
There are many silver jewellery cleaning solutions out there but many (if not all) aren't good for the environment. So I like to use some simple cleaning methods made from a few common household ingredients.
Washing up liquid - Good for an overall clean
You can be clean silver jewellery using a mild washing up liquid mixed with warm water. Dip a soft cloth into the mix and rub over your jewellery. For tougher areas use a soft brush (such as a toothbrush). Make sure you rinse the jewellery off after before drying it.
Washing up liquid & carbonated water- Use for jewellery with gemstones
Mix washing up liquid with carbonated water, the fizzy water helps to get into the tiny ares around the gemstones. You can use a soft cloth or brush to gently rub over the jewellery before rinsing & drying the piece.
Bicarbonate of soda- Good for tough tarnish
Don't use on glass beads, gemstones or jewellery with a patina as bicarbonate of soda acts as an abrasive which could scratch glass or gemstones & it will remove a patina.
Make a thick paste of bicarbonate of soda & warm water. You can either dip your jewellery in or use a soft cloth/brush to add it to the jewellery. Work it in for a bit, carefully rubbing before rinsing under cold water. Use a polishing cloth to give the jewellery a final finish.
Silver polishing cloth- Good quick polishing & for on the go
Make sure you use a polishing cloth that is made for silver as they often contain a special cleaner in them & there are cloths for many different metal types.
All you have to do is buff the jewellery over with the cloth!
Be careful not to go over gemstones.
Storing your jewellery properly helps to prevent & delay tarnish.
Store silver jewellery in an air tight, dry area away from sunlight. Seal-able small plastic bags are great for this but I prefer to use small boxes.
You can buy special anti tarnish strips which you can add to the bag/box but they only last a few months before they need replacing which can create a lot of waste. I prefer to give my silver jewellery a quick polish with a polishing cloth every now & then to keep it looking new.