Ultimate Guide For Sterling Silver Jewelry Care

Posted by Molly Frazier on

Here at MSCo, we aim for our sterling necklaces and bracelets to be heirloom quality pieces. We get lots of customer questions about how to best care for their sterling silver jewelry, so here’s an in-depth guide to make sure your jewelry receives proper care so it will be preserved and enjoyed for generations to come!

What is .925 sterling silver? 

First things first… let’s talk about the technical details of your sterling silver piece. 

Maybe you’ve heard .925 sterling and sterling silver referred to as different qualities of silver, but fun fact: they’re the same thing! Sterling silver is an alloy (mixture of two or more elements from the periodic table) of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other materials. Those “other materials” can include zinc, copper, or nickel. However, all of our MSCo sterling silver products are nickel-free, which means that our products are also hypoallergenic. If you’ve had a reaction to other sterling silver products, they likely had nickel in the alloy portion of the metal composition. The .925 marker on many silver pieces denotes the integrity of the item as containing 92.5% silver as per the commonly accepted world standard. 

Note: some of MSCo’s sterling silver pendants and charms do not have a .925 stamp on them, as we feel it disrupts the design of the jewelry. We can assure you that all pieces are verified sterling silver though, as we work closely with our casting p artners in the PNW.

All precious metals commonly used in jewelry are too soft in their pure forms and don’t hold up well to daily wear and tear. This is why they need to be mixed with other metals to make a more durable alloy. Luckily there are many more benefits than downsides to this mixture, but it does mean that sterling silver items need daily care to maintain their beautiful luster and shine.

Why does sterling silver benefit from daily care?

Because of sterling silver’s alloyed nature, sterling jewelry needs daily care to prevent tarnish and maintain its lifespan and beauty. Even if your silver items do tarnish, it is relatively easy to restore them to their original shine. We’ll separate this section into things to avoid for the sake of your sterling items (preventative maintenance) and things you can do to polish and restore your jewelry (active care).

Preventative maintenance

Sterling silver is a durable metal in the long run, but it can still be affected in the short term by various chemicals and exposure. Preventing tarnish is easy - it only requires a little extra thought and daily habit.

  • Avoid exposure to moisture.
    • While MSCo jewelry is designed for everyday wear, the silver luster will last longer if it is taken off before swimming, showering, working out, or washing dishes. Additionally, don’t store your jewelry in the bathroom where it will be exposed to significant humidity.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals.
    • Put your jewelry on last as part of your daily routine, after your perfume/cologne and lotion has fully absorbed and after any hair products have settled out of the air. Pools and hot tubs can be a double threat, between the moisture and the chlorine and chemicals used to clean the water. 
  • Store your jewelry carefully.
    • Great places to store your jewelry when you’re not wearing it include: an anti-tarnish cloth bag, in a jewelry box in a cool dark place, or in a container with a silica gel packet or piece of chalk to absorb moisture.

Active care

The best thing you can do to polish your sterling silver jewelry every day is to wear it! Truly, the gentle friction with your clothing and the natural oils in your skin help to polish your pendants and bracelets the more you wear them. Here’s a couple more ways to give your jewelry some extra TLC:

  • Daily: Use a silver polishing cloth on your jewelry when you take it off for the day.
    • Many polish cloths are affordable, and small enough to store with your jewelry.
  • Monthly: Use a silver polish paste or cream to brighten your jewelry’s shine.
    • If you want your jewelry to sparkle like the day you bought it, a small amount of silver polish will go a long way. Just avoid using paper towels - they may leave tiny scratches on the silver.
  • Yearly: Wash your jewelry with soap and water. 
    • We know this seems contradictory since you’re supposed to avoid moisture, but a yearly cleaning will help your jewelry last longer. Just mix a couple drops of liquid dish soap with warm water, soak your jewelry for 5-10 minutes, rinse, and dry with a soft cloth. To clean any crevices, use a soft-bristle brush - your old toothbrush is perfect for the job.

How can I restore my sterling silver? 

Luckily, it is very simple to restore your silver items that may have tarnished despite your best efforts. Whether you wore your bracelet into the ocean too many times or whether you rediscovered a necklace in your jewelry box, there are easy cleaning methods to remove the tarnish. Better yet, you can safely clean sterling silver with simple household and pantry staples and avoid a trip to the jewelry store. 

We recommend starting with the soap and water method mentioned above, but if the tarnish stubbornly sticks then you can move onto a different approach. Check out this article by Better Homes & Gardens for other cleaning “recipes” using household items!

 

Note: If you cleaned your MSCo sterling silver necklace or bracelet too much and now the background design of the wax seal is shiny as well, don’t panic! Just keep wearing your piece and the patina will redevelop, creating that gorgeous contrast between the background and the raised design. Next time you clean the pendant or charm, go slowly and focus on polishing the parts of the imagery you want to stand out. Plus, you can always reach out to our customer service with any questions. We’re here to help!

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