Whether its grandma’s silverware or your favorite family jewelry – sterling silver is going to tarnish. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% mass of silver and approximately 7.5% mass of other metals, usually copper. The standard for fineness of sterling silver is 9.25. The reason other metals must be added is because silver is too soft otherwise. Gold and platinum also contain metal alloys for the same reason. In my opinion nothing is prettier than shiny sterling silver, I even prefer its look over yellow gold. However, sterling silver jewelry may need to be cleaned more frequently than gold because it oxidizes more quickly. Being exposed to the air can tarnish your sterling silver jewelry, not so much due to the silver, but to its copper alloy. Exposure to perfumes, body lotions, and the natural oils on your body and hands can also affect the shine factor. It’s also best to remove your sterling silver if you’re planning to swim in the ocean or a chlorinated swimming pool. I don’t even wear mine into a bath or shower to keep it looking its shiniest.There are many ways to clean sterling silver jewelry. There are specially treated polishing cloths and liquid dipping solutions that will get the job done. There are also some cleaners you can make yourself at home. A white cream toothpaste works well when rubbed with a soft baby washcloth onto sterling silver, be sure to rinse well. Another thing that works is a denture cleaning tablet, the kind that fizz in a glass of water. Just drop your sterling silver into the mixture and let soak for about 30 minutes and rinse well and dry. A little plain dish washing liquid and water works well for cleaning some minor tarnishing. If there is tougher tarnish imbedded in detailed pieces you can use a soft baby’s toothbrush to work in the mixture. *Always use soft cloths so as not to scratch the silver. There is also a method used where a piece of aluminum foil is placed inside the bottom of a bowl, shiny side up, the bowl is then filled with warm water and a tablespoon of Arm & Hammer laundry detergent stirred in. Place your sterling silver in the bowl and let it soak for an hour or so, the aluminum foil attracts the tarnish to itself and off of the jewelry. Pretty cool. Some experts swear the best way to clean sterling silver is a soak in 7-Up, yes the un-cola supposedly works well for cleaning silver. Whatever method you decide to use always be sure to never use anything abrasive, as it can cause scratches – and always rinse well and dry well. Leaving any residue or moisture on your jewelry will only start the tarnish process all over again. Here’s to having the shiniest sterling silver jewelry!
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