Accessories are what often makes or breaks the outfit. It doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing an expensive or a cheap outfit – unless you accessorize properly, it just won’t work. One of the most popular materials among common folks, as far as accessories go, is without a doubt the sterling silver. It’s a non-expensive, long-lasting material from which a lot of cool jewellery items are made. You could make anything from sterling silver – from necklaces, bracelets to rings. Just like any other metal you would use to fashion a ring or a necklace, sterling silver jewellery needs to be properly taken care of and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Without further ado, let’s get started.
What is sterling silver and why does it darken?
It doesn’t matter if you wear your rings every day or just on a few special occasions or if you have a lot of them or just a few pieces, you’ve certainly asked yourself at one point in time what’s the best way to take care of them. If you have an older ring or any sterling silver jewellery for that matter, you may have noticed slight darkening, almost dirt-like. That’s nothing to be afraid of nor is it the reason to toss the item into the garbage.
Sterling silver is an alloyed metal. What that means is, it’s not pure silver – it’s a mixture of mostly silver and some other metals. To be precise, sterling silver a mix of 92.5% silver and the other 7.5% is usually copper, but it can be something else, for instance, zinc. It’s important to remember those numbers, more precisely to look for a ‘925’ mark, since that means there’s at least 92.5% of silver. Anything less than that does not classify as sterling silver.
Now, you’ve seen your piece go from shiny and clean to dark and dirty. This does not mean it’s become harmful for your skin or it has gone bad beyond repair. What that means is that the material has tarnished. Tarnish just means that the metal has reacted with the oxygen or other particles in the air and has lost some of its shine. With minimal effort and just a few tips on how to prevent and cope with this, you could have your jewellery last you a long time!
Tips on how to prevent tarnish
First off, let’s talk about the things we can do to prevent our rings from darkening in the first place. You should always try to prevent bad stuff from happening, rather than letting them happen and dealing with them then. This could count as a life tip, right? Now that we’re done with the life coaching, let’s get to the point – preventing tarnish.
1. Wear your rings
You’ve heard about cars breaking down in garages when not driven for a very long time? A lot of stuff breaks and suffers when not used and the same goes for your rings. Perhaps you’ve noticed yourself that the favourite ring you wear almost every day looks better than the one for special occasions and thought to yourself how can that be possible, isn’t wear and tear a thing? Well, it certainly is for running shoes, but since you don’t drag your rings on the ground, wearing them actually serves a purpose.
Our skin produces natural oils which sort of coats the ring and slows down the oxidation process, which means less tarnish, more shine. If you don’t believe us, click here to get yourself some new silver rings and wear them daily to test it out.
2. Take them off when you’re doing chores
This goes without saying, when you’re doing any house chores, even something as simple as washing the dishes or cleaning the windows, it’s important to take them off. In most cleaning products, from detergent to window cleaners and so on, there a certain substance we’ve all heard of and that’s sulphur. The same substance that makes sulphuric acid – yes.
Sulphur is one of the main villains when it comes to deterioration of sterling silver. It speeds up tarnishing process a lot, so make sure you take the rings off when you’re doing the chores. And while you’re there, protect your hands as well, wear some gloves. If it’s going to harm metal, it’s probably not really good for your skin as well.
3. Don’t expose it to sunlight too much
This seems a bit extreme, because what you’re going to do when you decide to take a walk on a sunny day? Just go ring-less? No, of course not. We’re talking about the beach or the pool day to be exact. If you’re planning on spending an entire day sunbathing and swimming, it’s best not to wear rings because sunlight speeds up the process. And you wouldn’t want to lose your ring in the water, right?
4. Jewellery comes on last
Aside from the obvious reasons why’d you want to accessories after everything is done, it’s important to note that the chemicals from all the cosmetics we use nowadays will also speed up the tarnishing process. You finish up getting ready, wash your hands and then put rings on.
How to clean your sterling silver?
5. Soap and water
Just as you would clean your hands or your face, you could clean your rings. Using warm water and gentle face soap should be the first thing you try to remove the tarnish since it’s easiest and most convenient to do.
6. Baking soda and water
Another simple way to clean the tarnish off of your rings is by using baking soda and water. Just mix those two together, create a paste and gently rub your jewellery until it’s squeaky clean. If it works for teeth, it must work for rings, too!
7. Vinegar and baking soda
This is the method you turn too when you want to bring your ring back from the dead. We’re talking dark, pitch-black rings. No, we’re just kidding, but this is, however, the method to use if there’s some serious tarnish build-up. First up, you’ll need to fill a cup with white vinegar and add two to four tablespoons of baking soda, depending on the size of the cup. Keep the cup small, you’re sinking a ring after all. After a few hours of sizzling and foaming, rinse your ring with water and voila, it’s brand new!
8. Avoid toothpaste
This is often a recommended method for cleaning your jewellery, but it’ll do you more harm than good. Toothpaste nowadays have way too many additional substances and those can be harmful to your finger buddies.
We’ve reached the end, unlike your rings which now have a new, sparkling life ahead of them. Hopefully, this article was helpful and has taught you a thing or two about keeping your jewellery nice and clean. Take care!