October 22, 2020
🕐 9:30 Min Read
If taken care of properly, Sterling Silver can last a lifetime. We’ve covered the different ways to take care of sterling silver in the comfort of your home and so much more.
Types Of Sterling Silver, Benefits, Preventative Care, Cleaning At Home & More
What Is Sterling Silver Jewelry?
At its core, Sterling silver is a combination of metal types. If you’re a Moon Magic jewelry enthusiast, then you’ve already seen the 925 hallmark stamped inside your ring or necklace clasp. This number signifies the amount of silver within the piece.
Sterling Silver—also known as 925 Silver—represents approximately 92.5% silver (Ag) and 7.5% copper (Cu). Regardless of the other 7.5%, the 925 will always remain standard for 92.5% purity.
Pure Silver Vs. Sterling Silver
Fun fact: there’s a numbers system when it comes to silver. These numbers signify the purity of the metal. Pure Silver contains 99.9% elemental silver while sterling silver contains additional metals for strength.
Naturally, Silver is a very soft material—so the more pure it is, the more malleable it is. The more malleable it is, the more likely it is to tarnish. So a 950 sterling silver piece will bend easier and tarnish quicker versus a 925.
How Can I Tell If My Silver Jewelry Is Authentic?
Usually, there is a 925 hallmark stamped on the inside of a ring or necklace clasp. Other markings include variations of the word sterling stamped in discreet places like the back of a pendant or inside a band. In the case you’re unable to find any markings, here’s a couple of other options:
Take It To A Jeweler
An easy way to verify if your jewelry is authentic silver is to take it to a jeweler. Their loupe or magnifying glass may be able to spot the stamp or hallmark that isn’t visible to the naked eye.
Conduct A Magnet Test
Silver and other precious metals (i.e. gold) are non-magnetic. To determine authenticity, all you have to do is put a magnet near your silver accessory. If the jewelry is attracted to the magnet, then it’s fake.
Rub Your Jewelry With A White Cloth
As silver ages, it oxidizes—meaning that areas of the piece get darker. For this test, grab a white and clean cloth. Then, massage it in a small area of your silver jewelry. If you find black blemishes, then get excited because your jewelry is legit.
Administer An Odor Test
If there is any smell of brass or copper from your silver jewelry, then plot twist—it’s not real. 925 Sterling Silver does not produce any odor.
Why Does Silver Tarnish?
Tarnishing occurs when there’s interaction with molecules and sulfur. Most 925 sterling silver is 7.5% copper. When copper is exposed to oxygen, salt and moisture, it causes discoloration. Burning fossil fuels also results in silver turning dark. Keep reading for how to clean sterling silver.
What Preventative Care Options Exist?
Upkeep for sterling silver jewelry is crucial for longevity. See below for the following tips:
Wear Your Jewelry Often
Believe it or not, you can avoid tarnishing your sterling silver by wearing your jewelry often. The oils in your skin will serve as a cleansing option for the silver and keep it looking shiny.
In-between wears, wipe down your jewelry and make sure it’s completely dry before storing.
There’s a reason many women (and men) abide by the best practice of getting dressed with jewelry as the last touch. To keep silver jewelry pure in the impurities of life, there’s a couple of substances you need to stay away from:
Substances Containing Sulfur
Sulfur is the bane of silver’s existence. Why? Because it’s one of the primary causes of tarnishing and corrosion.
When using or interacting with the following substances, make sure you keep your sterling silver jewelry off: mayonnaise, eggs, mustard, onions, latex, and wool.
During household chores—such as dishes, laundry or any instance that involves cleaning supplies—it’s best to take off your jewelry. These chemicals can erode the shine in your silver.
Another list of big enemies of sterling silver jewelry include cosmetics, lotions, hair sprays, hair products, and perfumes. These products accelerate tarnishing. When applying these products, it’s important to ensure they settle in before putting on your jewelry.
Any outdoor activity—whether it’s the gym, contact sports, gardening, or swimming—has the potential to damage your jewelry. During these activities, it’s best to ensure your jewelry is removed, dry and in airtight storage.
Humidity and sunlight are also damaging to sterling silver.
Storage Is Key
Exposure to air tarnishes sterling silver. It’s important to store silver in individual, airtight plastic bags. Links or chain bracelets should be unclasped or unhooked so there is not any scratching. As mentioned above, humidity is also damaging—so make sure your storage area is low humidity.
Another option to store jewelry is an airtight and soft fabric-lined box for individual pieces.
How Can I Clean Sterling Silver At Home?
If you want to skip the jeweler, here’s some home remedies for cleaning sterling silver.
One thing that’s important to note—silver cleaners are not for all types of silver jewelry. This means that you should not completely wash jewelry with pearls or opaque gemstones in these mixes because it can damage the stones.
After using these solutions, wash your silver with running water or a clean, damp cloth. Then, dry the pieces with a microfiber cloth.
Polishing is the most effective solution when tarnishing is not too severe. Since silver has potential to easily scratch, it’s important that you polish with a special silver cloth. Other options are a lint-free flannel, microfiber or soft, nonabrasive cloth. You should definitely stay away from paper towels or tissues because they contain fibers that scratch silver.
Use back-and-forth motions that mirror the pattern of the silver jewelry and switch to different sections of the cloth to avoid re-tarnishing the silver. For those hard-to-get areas, Q-tips are always great.
Soap & Water
Warm water and a mild, ammonia and phosphate-free dishwashing soap is a great go-to when polishing fails to remove the tarnish. We strongly recommend trying this method first before using any of the following methods.
Baking Soda & Water
Make a paste using baking soda and water. To apply, use a pea-sized amount of the paste on your silver and polish. If you’re cleaning sterling silver that has more detail, thin your paste out with more water and use a soft-bristled toothbrush for cracks and crevices.
Next, run the piece under warm water and dry with a clean cloth.
Olive Oil & Lemon Juice
Mix ½ cup lemon juice with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large bowl. Then, use a small microfiber cloth and dip it in the solution. Use this cloth to polish your sterling silver, rinse and dry.
White Vinegar & Baking Soda
If you’re wondering how to clean a sterling silver ring, this combination is an excellent gentle cleaner that removes heavy tarnish. Soak your tarnished jewelry in a ½ cup of white vinegar with 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Warning: this mixture fizzes. Keep your sterling silver in this solution for two to three hours, rinse and dry.
What Are The Benefits Of Sterling Silver?
Now that you’re a pro in cleaning sterling silver, here’s the benefits of adorning these beautiful and varietal pieces.
Once you learn how to take care of sterling silver jewelry, it can last for a lifetime. These pieces are often passed down as heirlooms and will still look the same after 40+ years. Investing in quality 925 sterling silver results in daily wear jewelry that lasts.
Nickel is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis. This is caused by touching an allergen. The aftermath of dermatitis results in itchy, irritated skin and unsightly scabs. In North America alone, more than 18% of people are allergic to nickel.
That’s why sterling silver is all the more appealing in general and for those with sensitive skin. It’s 92.5%+ pure silver and will not produce an adverse reaction. Thus, making it an ideal hypoallergenic jewelry option that doesn’t yield contact dermatitis.
It Decreases Inflammation & Increases Energy
Silver absorbs directly into the skin. As a result, it transmits strong pain-relieving effects once in the body. This metal promotes adequate blood circulation and targets pain in the muscles and tissue. As a result, this addresses common symptoms of inflammation and arthritis
When placed in direct contact with the skin, silver stimulates proper energy flow. This allows the body to in-turn feel more vivacious and re-invigorated. Also, sterling silver is known for significantly improving mental focus and concentration.
There’s Endless Variety
Many jewelers mold and experiment with this soft metal to develop unique and creative designs. Due to silver’s malleability, there’s always going to be an array of options to choose from—whether it be a ring, bracelet, earring or necklace.
Obsessed with Gemstone Jewelry? Discover our collections of nickel-free jewelry in 925 sterling silver, stainless steel, and rose/white/yellow gold.There’s Endless Variety