Over time, any sterling silver jewelry piece exposed to air will tarnish. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. It’s the copper, that cause sterling silver to tarnish. The copper reacts to moisture and sulfur in the air, causing the tarnishing reaction.
Tarnishing will happen quickly when the jewelry comes into contact with skin creams, perfume, sulphur, salty air, hairspray, chlorine and acidic skin ph. Sunlight can cause silver to tarnish as well. The amount of tarnish is dependent on the skin and the habits of the wearer. Tarnishing is not a sign of poor quality.
To reduce scratching and tarnishing, when you aren’t wearing your jewelry, store your pieces individually in small zip-lock plastic bags, removing as much air as possible. You may also want to put a small strip of anti-tarnish paper in each bag with the jewelry.
There are a few other things you may try when looking for ways to prevent your sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing.
Store jewelry with chalk: If you throw a few pieces of chalk in with your sterling silver, the chalk will absorb the moisture and help prevent tarnishing.
Use silica packs: When you buy new clothing or shoes, sometimes you’ll find silica packs in with them. Hold onto these and toss them in your jewelry box. They’re great for absorbing moisture!
Anti-tarnish cloths: Lining your jewelry box with anti-tarnish cloths is a great idea. These cloths absorb sulfur and moisture from the air and are usually chemically treated to prevent tarnish.
Wear it often: Believe it or not, your skin’s natural oils will help keep silver jewelry shiny.
If you’re looking at a piece of jewelry that is darkened or appears dirty, then your silver has tarnished; but, there’s no need to neglect this piece or get rid of it!
This bangle just needed some tarnish removal- do you see the spot where it was polished?
Soap and water: Warm water and a mild, ammonia- and phosphate-free dishwashing soap should be your first line of defense.
Baking soda and water: Make a paste of baking soda and water and use a clean cloth to apply a pea-sized amount to the silver and polish. For etched, stamped or detailed items, thin the paste with more water and use a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush to get the cracks and crevices. Run the silver piece or pieces under running warm water, and dry with a clean cloth.
Olive oil and lemon juice: Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 tsp. olive oil in a bowl large enough to hold the cleaning solution and a small microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth in the solution and wring it out so that it doesn’t drip, then polish the silver, rinse, and dry.
Ketchup – leave a generous amount on the piece for 5-10 minutes, rinse and dry.
Speed Dip Cleaner – has chemicals and harmful vapors, but we do use this at the studio to remove stubborn tarnish
Simple Shine Cleaner – A less harmful jewelry cleaner that you can purchase on Amazon
Sunshine Cloth – works great for polishing
For GOLD VERMEIL jewelry gently clean with a mild soap and water. You can also buff very gently with a 100% cotton cloth.