Will my Sterling Silver Tarnish? How do I care for my Sterling Silver? Can I shower and sleep with it on?
These are all good questions! I've definitely asked these myself before finding the answers. I hope that I can provide some answers for you.
A little background to Sterling Silver.
Sterling Silver is usually labeled as 925 which means it is 92.5% pure silver. Why only 92.5%? Pure Silver is way to soft to be used in jewellery making especially when it comes to delicate items so most jewellers use 925 Sterling Silver to make Jewellery.
So if Sterling Silver is only 92.5% Silver then what metal is the other percentage?Generally Sterling Silver is made up of Silver and Copper. So the amount of copper would be only 7.5% of the total amount. This metal adds firmness to Sterling Silver so it can be used to make beautiful delicate pieces of Jewellery.
Pure Silver is used to make some jewellery items but is much more common in bars of Silver as investments.
Why does Sterling Silver Tarnish?
As mentioned before Sterling Silver contains 7.5% Copper. Copper is an interesting metal. It is a very durable metal but does tarnish when exposed to ozone and hydrogen sulphide in the air. 99.9% Pure Silver is a lot less likely to tarnish due to the tiny amount of copper included. Yet, with an amount of 7.5% incorporated in with the Sterling Silver this can react with varies chemicals.
Apart from these chemicals in the air, and particular household items, perfumes, lotions and excessive sweating can also cause your jewellery to tarnish a lot faster.
NOTE: Wool contains trace amounts of sulphur so keep Sterling Silver away from woollen items.
How do I care for my Sterling Silver Jewellery?
It is much better to try prevent tarnishing than to try bring it back from this process. In order to slow down tarnishing, clean your jewellery after wearing it. Oils from your skin can accumulate on the Sterling Silver and predispose it to oxidisation.
You can use clean water and a little dish soap and let it soak for 5-10 minutes. You can use a soft toothbrush to give it a little scrub. Make sure it is dried thoroughly with a soft lint free cloth. You can also use a little microfibre cloth to polish up your sterling silver.
The best way to store your sterling silver jewellery is keeping it in a little plastic ziplock bag and then in a box like the one it came with. This prevents scratching and rubbing against other metals that may cause your piece to tarnish faster.
It is much easier to maintain your Sterling Silver in the first place than to have to get rid of bad oxidisation that has accumulated for years.
Can I Shower and Sleep with my Sterling Silver Jewellery?
Well, you can. BUT, your jewellery WILL tarnish faster. Tap water has small amounts of chlorine in it which can react with the copper alloy. So showering with Sterling Silver everyday can create a build up of these chemicals and cause a reaction over time. It is really up to the wearer what they really want to do.
Sleeping with Jewellery will also cause a faster tarnish due to the oils from our body reacting with the copper alloys. Again, if you keep your silver jewellery clean and regularly polish it, then go ahead and sleep with it. Although, there are always choking risks associated with wearing necklaces to bed.
Look after your Sterling Silver and it will treat you well for years to come!
The best thing about any piece of Jewellery, whether Sterling Silver or Gold Filled, if you take care of it, it will last for many years to come. 925 Sterling Silver is the most widely used metal in Jewellery making and no wonder! It is classic, beautiful, and valuable. Look after your Silver and it will look bright and shiny every time you wear it!
If you'd like to know more about Gold Filled metals click here to read about it: Gold Filled vs Gold Plated.