Practical information about the care and maintenance of sterling silver.
Sterling silver is a metal alloy that consists of at least 92.5% silver and up to 7.5% of another metal, usually copper. Silver in itself is a soft metal and the additional metal alloy in sterling silver provides strength and durability. If you maintain it correctly, it can last a lifetime. But because sterling silver stains over time, proper maintenance is necessary. Sterling silver should never be worn in swimming pools because the chlorine and other chemicals will accelerate the development of dark stains. The minerals in lakes, seas and even the water in the shower can likewise cause stains. Furthermore, many kinds of skin care products like creams and oils as well as perfumes can affect the appearance of silver.
There are many different silver polishing products on the market, but the cheaper brands are usually fine and can be purchased in normal supermarkets. Never use any kind of brush to remove stains from silver jewellery, as this can cause scratch marks and scrape marks. A polishing cloth for silver and a little patience is all that is needed.
When it comes to storing silver jewellery, avoid contact with wood because the trees’ natural oils and fumes will contribute to the darkening of the silver. Furthermore, it should not be in direct contact with other untreated metals or rubber. A little piece of chalk stored alongside the silver jewellery will help to absorb contamination in the air and keep the silver stain-free for a longer period of time.
It is important to mention that sulfur is one of silver's worst enemies. Sulfur can be found everywhere. It is transported through the air and is found e.g. in natural gas or even in our sweat. When sulfur touches the surface of silver, a layer of silver sulfide is created (a process also known as oxidation). Silver sulfide is the black-coloured substance most commonly referred to as stains. Even though it is almost impossible to answer the question where the sulfur comes from, the best solution to the problem is to store sterling silver ware in an airtight container.
But very often the darkening process (oxidation) is very welcome as a decorative element. It is used consciously to give silver an antique look. If this is want you want, you can purchase Oxidation fluid here at Smyks in order to make your own black oxidised silver.