How to Maintain Sterling Silver Jewelry

Posted by Carolina Clover on 9th Mar 2014

With the boom of sterling silver as an affordable upscale jewelry option, we all have something in our jewelry box that is sterling silver. If it has been in that box for a LOOOONNNNG time, it probably doesn't look like the day you got it, maybe it never looked like the day you got it and you gave up on it and threw it in your jewelry box where it is now dusty. We can help you love your sterling silver again!

Sterling silver is really easy to maintain and bring back the shine that attracted you to the piece in the first place. However, no matter if it is one day old or 10 years old, it does need to be maintained to keep it looking its best.

Addressing Tarnish. Every piece of sterling silver jewelry will tarnish.  The only way it will not tarnish is if it Rhodium plated. None of our jewelers plate with Rhodium.  The reason being is that Rhodium over sterling silver resembles a chrome bumper and chrome bumpers as jewelry is just not in style. It changes the color of silver and makes it look cheap, therefore all our custom jewelers work with sterling silver.

What does Tarnish look like? It is blackened metal formerly resembling the shiny new sterling silver you fell in love with. It can also create black or green marks on your skin. This does not indicate the jewelry is "cheap", this is a myth and long time misunderstanding of metals. Don't throw it away! It is not cheap, it just needs to be treated with some love.


Nobody knows how quickly a piece can tarnish, but it can tarnish in a few hours or a few years depending on its exposure.  Tarnish is not a manufacturer defect or an indication of a "cheap" piece of jewelry. Exposure to what?  

1. Skin.  Skin has oils and lotions, sweat and acidity you can't see that when in contact with skin with rings, or pendants or even the back of earrings will tarnish sterling silver.

2. Air. Air creates tarnish through oxidation, just sitting in your jewelry box not being worn can tarnish silver jewelry.

3. Chemicals.  Soap, water, cleaners, perfume, can tarnish silver.

What to do? First start with a white polishing pad also known as foam polishing pad for metals. You can purchase them online or email us, we have a polish kit for you. They look like this.

These polishing pads will remove light surface scratches and tarnish from your sterling silver. Buff with a jewelers cloth following using the foam pad.

 And now the shine is back to this sterling silver monogram pendant like the day you bought it! Now, instead of throwing it back into your jewelry box to tarnish and gather dust, wipe it with your jeweler's cloth and and store it in a zipper storage bag before returning it to your jewelry box. If you wear it everyday, limit the exposure to the things that tarnish silver and you will love your sterling again.

Quick tip hint: If you are without polish and polishing pads, you can use an old toothbrush with toothpaste to polish the silver. You won't get the results you see here, but it is cheap, quick and inexpensive way to clean up your silver.