Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Polishing and storing Silver

Hi there-
Here are a couple tips about jewelry care that I hope you find helpful! feel free to pass it along...

Polishing Silver:

is something that anyone who was born after the 1970's isn't usually familiar with. (Before then, we all had to polish our mother's silver tableware when getting ready for holiday meals) The fact is, Silver tarnishes. It's because there is a small amount of copper in the alloy- once it is exposed to humidity and air it darkens ("oxidizes") so, unless it is kept in a special container with anti tarnish chemicals, it will tarnish.
(I've added a few tips on silver storage below)

To care for your silver all summer I recommend keeping it clean by either investing in a ($5) polishing cloth aka rouge cloth, or investing in a tube or jar of old fashioned silver polish. 
Silver can tarnish from sweat, so use a bit of silver polish when you see it darkening- you can buy it at any hardware store. There are many types of silver polish- the more gentle the better-
IMPORTANT: I usually recommend to stay away from liquid "dipping" polishes, which are very aggressive and actually strip a fine layer of metal from your piece. (this is especially disheartening when you lose darkened details of older pieces, or pieces that are meant to have black details, so be careful to avoid those stripping products)
However, if you have a piece that just needs to be brightened (and it doesn't have any dark details)
You can try the easy DIY silver brightening method I describe in another blog post Here: http://mbzmetalsmith.blogspot.com/2014/11/tarnish-be-gone.html

 Silver Storage:
*Never wrap your silver jewelry in newspapers or plastic as these will cause your jewelry to tarnish severely.
*Add rubber bands to the list of material that should not be used to pack silver jewelry.
*Wrap each jewel in anti-tarnish tissue (available at most jewelry stores) and then seal them in polyethylene bags. (This is one way in which tarnishing can be minimized.)
*Tarnish absorbing cloths are also available and can be used in the same way.
*Anti-tarnish strips work in a slightly different way. These strips absorb tarnish producing gases and are made from paper that contains activated charcoal. They do not emit fumes or vapours but absorb the gases that cause silver to tarnish.
*even putting a couple sticks of regular white chalk (from the chalkboard) in your jewelry storage will help regulate the humidity and keep your tarnish under control.
*Finally, Silica Gel granules are man made and absorb moisture from the air. High humidity is one of the causes of silver tarnish and these granules that contain numerous tiny crevices 'suck' excess moisture from the air. They are used in medicine containers too and have been around for many decades.

The important thing to note about these materials is that they have a life span during which they will prove effective. Read instructions when using them and ensure that they are changed as and when recommended. Silica Gel granules can be made to change color when they are fully 'soaked' with moisture and become inactive. 


******************************************************************************** a lot of info! But if you are still interested, here's another link about the care of silver: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_and_restoration_of_silver_objects

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