Jewellery can be an important accessory – whether in casual everyday wear, as a coordinating accent for business attire, or for a special occasion. Jewellery can be relatively inexpensive, or can be an investment sometimes requiring a significant outlay of cash. Regardless of the initial cost of the jewellery, proper care is important to maintaining the quality and appearance of the items.
At Karlande Designs, we frequently receive questions regarding the care of sterling silver, as our items are manufactured using sterling silver components.
THE MAIN TYPES OF SILVER TONE JEWELLERY:
- Silver-plated jewellery. This jewellery is composed of a copper core, layered with a coating of silver plate. Over time, the silver coating may rub off, leaving the copper exposed. There is nothing that can be done, other than having the items re-plated. We do not use silver-plated components for this reason.
- Fine Silver is 99% pure silver. It is very soft and can bend and break easily. It is used in some jewellery, but it may be more susceptible to wear.
- Sterling silver is very popular in higher quality jewellery. Sterling silveris an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The addition of the alloy adds to the strength and durability of the jewellery. Contrary to what most people believe, it’s not the silver in sterling silver that oxidizes and tarnishes; it’s the alloy metals such as copper.
- Pewter is another popular metal for jewellery. Pewter combines a mixture mainly of tin with other complementary metals such as copper. Many pewter items are also plated with silver. These have become more popular with the increasing cost of silver.
- Stainless steel is another popular metal for jewellery. It is also an alloy and is made up of a percentage of chromium. It does not oxidize or tarnish.
Sooo…. As many people have asked us …. What are some hints and techniques in caring for sterling silver jewellery????
CARE OF YOUR SILVER JEWELLERY
You can avoid tarnish by wearing your jewellery often. The oils in your skin will help keep it looking shiny.
Avoid exposure to household chemicals, rubber, chlorinated water or any substances containing sulfur. It is a good idea to remove silver jewellery when doing household chores. Don’t wear silver jewellery in the shower. Soap residue builds up, causing a dull finish on the silver. Direct sunlight also causes silver to tarnish, so take off your jewellery before you go sunbathing or swimming.
A friend had realized that she had left her anklet on when she got in a hot tub. As soon as her foot entered the water, she remembered and took it out immediately. The silver beads on her anklet were ruined, but we were able to restring it for her.
Lotions, cosmetics, hair products, and perfumes will also speed up tarnishing. It is a good idea to put on your jewellery last when you are preparing to go out.
CLEANING YOUR SILVER JEWELLERY
The first step in cleaning silver is to be gentle. Silver can be easily scratched.
Do NOT use toothpaste to clean your jewellery. It is abrasive and can easily scratch your precious items.
Do NOT use baking soda to clean your jewellery. There are videos on the internet showing how to line a pan with silver foil and add hot water, baking soda and your silver. This is risky! It may cause tiny pits in the silver which might trap chemicals and moisture.
You can wash your silver with warm water containing a few drops of mild dishwashing soap – I have seen Dawn recommended often. You can use a soft toothbrush, but again, be gentle. If you do this often, you can prevent the tarnishing from developing. Do not do this if your silver jewellery contains pearls.
You can also purchase polishing cloths from jewellery stores. We carry them on our website as well. They are excellent for polishing your silver jewellery. We actually cut ours in half. We find that they last longer this way.
You can also purchase cleaning solutions from jewellery stores. We also carry these. They are great in cleaning heavily tarnished items.
STORING YOUR SILVER JEWELLERY
It is best to store your sterling jewellery in a dry spot, away from moisture – not in the bathroom. We provide tarnish-resistant bags with our sterling silver products. We made the mistake initially of not using these bags, and the bracelets tarnished. It was not until after we researched the cause of this that we discovered that the residue of acids used to make the boxes caused the sterling to tarnish. We do provide these bags upon request. It is best not to store more than one piece per bag, as the sterling can be scratched. You can also add packages of the silica gels to a container to absorb moisture.
PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS…
WE LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!
Andrea Sharpe is the President of Karlande Designs Ltd., a jewellery design and manufacture company located in Clarenville. They custom design jewellery for fundraising opportunities, for corporate gift giving, and for individual customers. For more about Karlande Designs visit their website, www.karlandedesigns.com or check them out on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.