It is natural for sterling silver jewellery to tarnish, blacken or discolour over time, particularly if the piece is worn regularly.
Tarnish is caused by several factors which include:
- Exposure to moisture, humidity, sunlight and oxygen.
- Acidity (ph balance) of a person’s skin, which in turn is affected, for example, by diet, medication and stress.
- Exposure to perfume, soap, moisturiser, shampoo etc. and cleaning products such as dishwashing liquid and bleach.
- Exposure to chlorine.
Strokeside Designs advises against:
- rowing, swimming, showering or undertaking vigorous exercise while wearing jewellery.
- exposing jewellery to cleaning agents or cosmetics such as foundations, perfumes, hairsprays.
- exposing jewellery to excessive heat or prolonged periods of direct sunlight.
- use of commercial silver ‘dip’ solutions as they are unsuitable for cleaning hollow, oxidised, stone-set, pearl or plated jewellery and can cause surface deterioration.
Wash tarnished item with a mild soap, then place the piece on aluminum foil in the bottom of a pot. Add a baking soda solution of 1/4 cup soda and a few teaspoons of salt into 1 quart (4 cups) boiling water. Cover for a few minutes. Then rinse and let dry thoroughly.
If in doubt, take it to a jeweller! At least once per year (more often as the item ages) take it to your jewelry for a check up. Jewelry is just like a car and needs to be maintained and occasionally rebuilt/reinforced.