The term sterling silver refers to a metal alloy which has at least 92.5% precious metal content. Jewelry stamped with the numbers.925 on the back or some other inconspicuous place on the item is sterling. If you do not see that.925 mark, do not buy it. Now that you know that important definition, may we talk about keeping your jewelry tarnish free? It is easier to prevent the darkening than to remove it.
Keeping your pieces in a plastic zip lock bag will help prevent tarnishing, which is a result of a chemical reaction that occurs when your jewelry encounters Copper Water dispenser sulfur-containing substances in the air. If the sulfur in the air cannot react with the silver, it will not discolor. Preventing the problem is an effort to prevent the chemical reaction,
– When placing the jewelry in a plastic bag, try to squeeze out as much air as possible when you are zipping the bag.
– Wrapping the item up in ‘silver cloth’ will also help. The cloth can sometimes be purchased by the yard at fabric stores. (It is also great for flatware, and large items, such as candle sticks and bowls.)
– Simply wearing your jewelry frequently is one of the best ways to prevent discoloration, according to jewelry designer Charles Albert. Body oils that accumulate on the jewelry help prevent tarnishing.
If your jewelry blackens in spite of your best efforts, it will need to be cleaned. The chemical reaction that occurs to form the tarnish, produces silver sulfide, which is black. Once the sulfide is removed from the surface of the item, the beautiful luster returns. There are several methods to use. Some are better than others. The intricate nature of jewelry often makes it difficult to clean.
– It is possible to purchase cleaning/polishing products in the grocery store or a jewelry store. However, over time rubbing the engraving or shapes of a piece will wear down the beauty and definition of the item.
– Museums that must maintain and preserve the beauty of old pieces often use commercial chemical solutions that will clean off the tarnish, especially in the nooks and crannies of the design. This method allows them to keep the pieces beautiful, and it does not require rubbing the item. Several products are available on the market.
– An affordable and simple way to clean your item is to place it in aluminum pan, such as a disposable pie pan and sprinkle it with baking soda. (A glass pan can be used with a piece of aluminum covering the bottom of the pan.) Water should be heated to boiling in a stove top pan or in the microwave. Then pour the hot water over the jewelry and baking soda until the item is just covered with water. Be careful. Boiling water will burn your skin.
The water will cause the baking soda to fizz, which means the desired chemical reaction is occurring and has begun to clean the black away. After you have turned the jewelry several times with a fork or wooden spoon, and the water has cooled, remove the jewelry and gently dry it with a soft cloth. You might have to repeat this process 3-4 times if the piece is badly tarnished.