Most people have experienced the feeling of a gorgeous piece of sterling silver that begins to tarnish. A lot of these precious possessions are quite expensive. Others are simply beautiful and meaningful, and when they tarnish it can be frustrating. When your sterling silver jewelry changes color, this is a telltale sign that your sterling silver jewelry is beginning to tarnish.
You may wonder why your sterling silver jewelry is tarnishing, and if there is anything you can do to prevent it. This blog post will discuss the answers to these questions and provide you with a simple method of how to clean sterling silver jewelry at home.
Just so we don’t keep you in a state of suspense about how to clean sterling silver jewelry at home, we’ll give you the proper product to accomplish this task right away. The best tarnish remover that you can use on your sterling silver jewelry is the Champion Polishing Cloth. Later on in this post, we’ll go into more depth about this 90-year-old sterling silver jewelry cleaner and why it’s the perfect polishing cloth and cleaner for you to use at home when maintaining your sterling silver jewelry.
What is the Science of Sterling Silver Tarnish and Its Cause?
Various chemical changes take place when metal is tarnishing. When oxygen reacts with sulfur dioxide, a metal vs. non-metal compound, tarnish is the byproduct. When this reaction occurs, oxidation takes place, creating metal oxides. These metal oxides can react with water to produce hydroxide or with carbon dioxide to produce carbonate. Unlike rust, tarnish is limited to the outermost layers of the object while the underlying layers are unaffected.
When sterling silver is exposed to sulfur-containing gases it changes form and creates a layer of tarnish. The compounds that are created from this exposure are silver sulfide and copper sulfide. When tarnished, sterling silver will typically contain both these compounds and will sometimes contain hydrogen sulfate as well. Hydrogen sulfide is the most common sulfate-containing gas and comes from hard-boiled eggs. Tarnish can worsen and change colors at different rates.
There is a phenomenon called “thin-film interference” that plays a big role in the way sterling silver may tarnish. This phenomenon is mainly responsible for how sterling silver changes colors while it is tarnishing. When light shines on a piece of tarnishing sterling silver, it splits, resulting in two different reflections. Part of the light will reflect off the layer of tarnish while some of it reflects off the sterling silver itself. This light interference, depending on how thick the layer of tarnish is, drastically changes the color.
Many of the colors are lost after the top and bottom reflections recombine. The colors that remain after this interference are yellow, reddish-brown, blue, or black. When the thickness of the tarnish falls between 10 and 100 nanometers the colors are then yellow, reddish-brown, and blue. When the thickness is over 100 nm the tarnish turns to complete silver sulfide which is black. Sometimes tarnish will produce 3-dimensional whisker formations rather than colors, but the exact reason for this is unknown.
How Long Does It Take for Sterling Silver to Tarnish?
The rate that sterling silver tarnishes is determined solely by the amount of sulfur-containing gas it is exposed to. This is measured by the gas’s relation to 1 trillion molecules of air. For example, if a dark layer of tarnish was to form in a museum setting, where the hydrogen sulfide content ranges anywhere from 86-600 parts per trillion, it will take months or even a year. Sterling silver that is directly exposed to a hard-boiled egg will tarnish in minutes.
Sterling silver can also tarnish if it is not stored in the proper environment. Humidity drastically affects the rate at which it will tarnish. When sterling silver is exposed to an environment containing sulfur gases as well as humidity, the rate of tarnish increases as the relative humidity of that environment increases. Conversely, as moisture lowers, the rate of tarnish will reduce as well. It is best to store sterling silver in places that have a relative humidity level of 50% or less.
How Can You Keep Sterling Silver From Tarnishing?
Applying just a thin layer of polish can go a long way in preventing sterling silver from tarnishing and making it look like new. Keeping your silver out of environments where harmful gases are present will also help to prevent tarnish. If your sterling silver does begin to tarnish, your first instinct may be to look online for DIY methods that will provide recipes on how to remove tarnish from sterling silver.
We highly recommend that you proceed with the utmost of caution when looking into these so-called DIY sterling silver tarnish removing recipes. For example, they may recommend steel wool, sandpaper, emery paper, baking soda, or a file for removing the tarnish on sterling silver. Not only will these methods remove the tarnish from your sterling silver, but you’ll scratch your sterling silver jewelry so much that it’ll essentially be destroyed.
Baking soda and steel wool are far too abrasive for removing tarnish. A much safer and effective method would be to turn to the Champion Polishing Cloth, which was engineered over 90 years ago and today still utilizes its original exclusive formulation. It removes tarnish without damaging your precious sterling silver jewelry and as an added bonus, it leaves behind a long-lasting protective coating that stops tarnish from returning.
Use Special Bags or Papers
There are special anti-tarnish bags that are designed to neutralize sulfur and other harmful gases. Placing anti-tarnish papers between your sterling silver objects and then placing them both in an airtight bag can be very helpful. Both are excellent strategies to use when storing once you’ve used the Champion Polishing Cloth to remove the tarnish from your sterling silver jewelry.
What is the Best Jewelry Cleaner for Sterling Silver?
There are two strategies you can follow for how to clean sterling silver jewelry at home. The Internet is filled with countless DIY sterling silver jewelry cleaners. These DIY recipes will suggest that you use toothpaste, baking soda, vinegar, and other ingredients you can find at home.
Without a doubt, a DIY recipe for removing tarnish from sterling silver could work with any or all of these ingredients, but there’s one common thread found with all the mentioned ingredients. They can do more harm than good.
For example, toothpaste and baking soda are both very abrasive. Yes, they will remove the tarnish, but they will scratch your precious sterling silver jewelry. Vinegar is also an extremely effective cleaner. The reason for this is that vinegar is acidic and is considered a caustic product. Great care and caution is needed when using such aggressive types of ingredients.
Ask yourself what your sterling silver jewelry means to you. Is it something precious? If so, then we suggest you ignore these DIY methods and take the safe road by investing in the Champion Polishing Cloth. Here is a product that has built up an extremely loyal following of users over its 90 years of existence. It is made in the United States and its 90-year-old exclusive formula was designed specifically to safely and effectively remove tarnish from sterling silver.
The simplest and most effective way to maintain your sterling silver jewelry is to find a polishing cloth that is manufactured by a reputable company that specializes in this market. If you’re lucky enough to find a polishing cloth that not only can safely and effectively remove tarnish, but can also inhibit the formation of tarnish, then don’t hesitate to purchase one.
The Champion Polishing Cloth is indeed such a product. It is made in the USA and has been in existence for over 90 years. It is still going strong after all this time!
This polishing cloth is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. Its proprietary formula was designed to be not only simple to use but also to deliver results quickly.
The Champion Polishing Cloth is ready to use right out of its packaging. It requires no wetting. Please note that all surfaces on your sterling silver jewelry must be dry. Never use the polishing cloth on a wet surface. To clean your sterling silver jewelry, simply rub a small area of your jewelry piece at a time. Notice that the Champion Polishing Cloth begins to discolor and turn black. This illustrates how quickly and effectively it removes tarnish from your jewelry pieces.
Interestingly, this discoloration of the cloth does not in any manner reduce its effectiveness. Amazingly, the darker the cloth turns, the more superior its performance. If your sterling silver jewelry contains an intricate design, there is no need to worry about any sediment finding its way into the crevices, since the Champion Polishing Cloth will not leave any sediment behind.
Once you feel the tarnish has been removed, grab a clean, dry, soft cloth to buff that area. Continue to repeat that process on other areas of your sterling silver jewelry piece until all tarnish has been removed.
One great feature about the Champion Polishing Cloth is that after you’re finished, you’ll notice that your jewelry piece will be shining as if you just purchased it from the jewelry store. It will maintain this brilliant luster for a long time because the Champion Polishing Cloth provides a protective film on your sterling silver. Its unique chemicals and waxes penetrate deep into the pores of the sterling silver, leaving behind an invisible wax coating. This unique film will greatly retard the formation of any future tarnish. It will also allow the polished surface to maintain its wonderful shine for a much longer duration of time.
The hard-working chemistry that has been impregnated into our special cloth will not evaporate. With that being said, we recommend that once you’re finished using it to place it back in the seal tight packaging it came in.
How Can We Tell If Sterling Silver Jewelry is Real or Fake?
A piece of jewelry is considered pure silver when it is at least .925% silver. Natural silver is too soft to build with and therefore needs additives such as copper and nickel. Sometimes an item can have a thin plate of pure silver that lies over another metal that is not considered pure silver. Over time this silver plating can be worn away and reveal the lesser-quality metal underneath. Pure silver will have marks on it such as 9.25, Sterling, Sterling 925, or S/S.
How to Choose the Right Sterling Silver Jewelry to Wear
Picking out the right sterling silver jewelry is heavily based on personal taste. It is important to also know the construction of the sterling silver jewelry as well. There once was an unspoken rule that every piece of jewelry could only be made from one type of metal. We now know that mixed metal jewelry can drastically change the appearance and tarnish rate of a piece of metal. This innovative approach offers many more styles and versions of sterling silver jewelry that suit all types of buyers’ needs.
Now that you know how to clean sterling silver jewelry at home, you can feel confident in protecting your prized sterling silver jewelry. You can also be sure that when you decide to wear it at special events, people will take notice of its incredible shine.
It’s all about understanding why sterling silver tarnishes, and then taking that knowledge, dealing with it, finding a solution, and implementing that strategy. We’ve dealt with the DIY myths and the pros (and mostly cons) of those strategies, and have ultimately presented a product that you will be motivated to use.
That product is the Champion Polishing Cloth, a safe and effective cleaning and polishing tool for not only sterling silver jewelry but anything made of silver! It has a 90 year+ history, its made right here in the USA, and it provides real value for your money. One 9″ x 12″ polishing cloth is the equivalent of one gallon of liquid silver polish. It is long-lasting and provides you with a worry-free method that will make your prized sterling silver jewelry look fantastic and impart a protective coating that will keep it looking great for years to come.