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Sterling silver jewelry maintenance
Many people wonder just how to take care of their sterling silver jewelry. When you first purchased that silver necklace, ring or broach it was shiny and beautiful.
In time silver tarnishes from the interaction of silver and sulfides in the air. First the tarnish will take on a golden hue, and eventually, it will turn the piece black. This is a natural process.

Higher sulfide levels are associated with humidity and/or air pollution. Keep in mind that the more humid the climate, the faster sterling will tarnish.
On a summer day in Jackson, Mississippi, all you have to do is walk out the door and the silver starts turning black very quickly.

(1) Sterling silver will polish up by rubbing or buffing it with a soft cotton cloth. A chemically treated cloth, like a Sunshine Cloth, makes the job a lot easier and faster.

(2) Sterling silver dips are fast and easy.
However, be careful! First, many dips will take the color and polish off many gemstones. Second, when using a dip, if you leave the piece in too long, or don't rinse it well enough with fresh water, white residues will be left on the piece when it dries. The residue is difficult to rub or pick off. When using a silver dip, dip the piece quickly in and out of the dip. Then immediately rinse it in clean water.
When the piece dries, buff it with a soft cotton cloth or a Sunshine Cloth. The buffing brings out more of the shine, helps take off any residue left on the piece, and with a Sunshine Cloth, leaves a little bit of a protective anti-tarnish coating on the piece to keep it shiny longer. A dip should only be used when a buffing with a dry cloth doesn’t work.

(3) Tarnish Shield, or similar lacquer shield, will keep the piece of jewelry shiny until the tarnish wears off. You should be aware that pieces that have been lacquered don't age well, until all the lacquer has worn off. In spots where the lacquer has loosened from the sterling, but not worn off, the silver will tarnish, but you won't be able to buff it.

If you use a dip to clean a piece that has a tarnish shield, often the dip will get under parts of the lacquer, leaving a residue, wherever the lacquer is beginning to wear off. If the piece is a chain, or a filigree, the lacquer will form a film within the openings and cracks. This obviously makes the piece ugly. The simplest way is usually the best way. Get a clean, soft cloth and polish your silver. It will be beautiful again!
 Jun 25 2012

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