Keeping silver jewelry as bright, tarnish-free and ready-to-wear as possible is relatively easy. First understand that an absolute tarnish-free existence for your silver jewelry is impossible to achieve; one of the characteristics of any item with a silver content (whether it be jewelry, flatware or something else) is that it’s bound to tarnish as the silver content interacts with the surrounding air and moisture. However, the methods by which you store your silver jewelry and the care with which you clean it will assure many years of wear and enjoyment.
- Silver jewelry should be stored in a cool, dry place in a manner that discourages individual pieces from banging into each other (remember, silver jewelry is soft and quite susceptible to scratches, dings and the like). Ideally, all silver jewelry should be stored in tarnish-proof bags; however, this is probably not a practical option for most people and, fortunately, a standard jewelry box with its lined and partitioned compartments works just fine.
- Discourage excess moisture in the air from tarnishing your silver jewelry by storing small bags of desiccant or silica gel in with your silver jewelry collection. These little bags are available from any number of online suppliers and will help absorb excess moisture in the surrounding area and aid in keeping your silver jewelry shiny and bright.
- When the inevitable tarnishing happens, use a jeweler’s treated polishing cloth to remove any tarnish buildup. These cloths are inexpensive and may appear as two cloths sewn together; one cloth is treated with a gentle silver polishing agent and the other cloth is for buffing your silver jewelry to a nice bright sheen. For intricately designed silver jewelry try using a silver paste and a soft toothbrush, working the paste into any little nooks and crannies; once finished, remove the paste with another soft toothbrush and warm water and allow your jewelry to dry thoroughly before re-storing. When cleaning, remember to apply gentle pressure only, as silver jewelry is prone to bending and even breaking if it’s man-handled too much.
- Although it’s tempting, try to stay away from harsh liquid chemical cleaners such as Tarn-X. Yes, it will remove virtually all traces of tarnish very quickly; however, your silver jewelry will also be stripped of its mellow glow and will instead come out harshly white-silver. Especially stay away from such chemical cleaners if you’re trying to clean vintage or antique silver jewelry, as such stripping of the jewelry’s patina can actually devalue a piece.
- Get into the habit of donning your silver jewelry (or any jewelry for that matter) last; after you’ve done the makeup and the hair products and the perfume, as any of these products can cause a chemical reaction which may spot your bright silver jewelry and make your next polishing session more difficult.