Many individuals prefer the look of silver compared to gold. However, many think that because it is a popular and cheaper alternative, it is liable to rust or fade.
Like all precious metals, sterling silver tarnish, which looks black, can appear over time from exposure to the environment and compounds in water.
In our guide, you can find out more about how silver can tarnish over time and how to clean your piece of jewelry.
Can You Wear Sterling Silver in the Water?
You can wear sterling silver in water; however, water can cause silver to oxidize faster, although it doesn’t cause damage. Most times, it is the type of water and chemicals it contains that impact how much your silver can change color. Here are a few things about silver jewelry and water exposure. (Read How To Clean Gold Chain)
Shower water: Water from the shower doesn’t contain harsh chemicals. Soap and water can help wash away dirt from your silver that makes it appear dull.
Pool water: Chlorine reacts with sterling silver and other metals. It is often used to treat swimming pools, so if you swim regularly, you may need to clean your silver jewelry more often.
Hot Tubs: You can find a higher concentration of chlorine used in hot tubs, and the water is hot. Chemical reactions happen faster at higher temperatures.
Salt Water: Saltwater corrodes many metals. A good rinse with warm water will be advised if you swim in the sea.
Hot Springs: A hit spring can contain many minerals. One is Sulfur, which is used by jewelers in the form of Sulfuric acid to oxidize silver jewelry intentionally. It is better to leave your jewelry off if heading to a hot spring. (Learn How Much Chlorine To Add To Pool)
How Long Does Sterling Silver Last?
Sterling silver is among the most common metals and used in jewelry extensively. You often find silver plating or a mix of other metals in the instance of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
Sterling silver jewelry can easily last 20 years upward with proper care and attention. Here you can find a few examples of ways how to clean sterling silver and remove tarnish. (Learn How To Neutralize Bleach)
Soap and Water
- Combining warm water and liquid dish soap such as Dawn can be gentle on your silver and tough on dirt. It doesn’t lead to tarnishing and won’t cause any damage.
- Once dry, use a polishing cloth to rub the ring clean gently.
Baking Soda and Water
- Make a paste from baking soda and a few drops of warm water.
- Gently brush the paste across your ring or chain using a soft cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush. If you have etched designs or engravings, you can make a thinner paste to get inside the indentations.
- Once cleaned, rinse the silver under warm water and pat dry with a clean cloth.
Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
- Mix about ½ a cup of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
- Dip a soft clean cloth in the solution to dampen
- Remove excess liquid, then rub along the surface of your jewelry
- Rinse after cleaning and pat dry with a clean cloth.
White Vinegar and Baking Soda
- Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to ½ cup of white vinegar. Use a large bowl as it will bubble and foam
- Soak the tarnished jewelry for two to three hours
- Remove your silver and rinse with warm running water
- Pat dry with a clean cloth and gently polish
Best Cleaner for Silver Sterling, Not Silver Plated
You will discover this is the best way to clean black silver as it creates chemical reactions. Make sure you have striking silver and not silver plated as there is a big difference in the metals. (Find the Best Car Vacuum Cleaner)
Baking Soda, Aluminum Foil, Salt, and Hot Water
- Line a shallow glass baking pan with aluminum foil and make sure the shiny side faces up.
- Lay your sterling silver on the foil.
- Pour boiling water your silver until it’s covered
- Add 2 tablespoons of salt
- Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda
- Stir the mixture until it is dissolved
- Let your silver sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Use tongs to remove your silver. (don’t use rubber gloves as they contain metals that can react)
- Rinse in warm, clean water and pat dry
How Long Does It Take for Sterling Silver to Rust?
When wearing silver rings or chains, you can find they turn black. Silver tarnish is discoloration of sterling silver items, which can take a yellow or black appearance.
Yellow may be silver plating that is wearing and revealing metals underneath. It could be possible to have them re-plated in a jewelry shop, but the cost could be more than the item.
Pure sterling silver rings won’t rust, yet it tarnishes and changes color.
You may wonder, how long does it take for sterling silver to tarnish? It’s hard to put a time on how fast you get sterling silver tarnish.
Many things affect the tarnish rate on sterling silver jewelry, such as the air, or it is exposed to chemicals that affect the allow.
Sterling silver comprises 92.5% silver and the rest copper. You will discover why sterling silver is known as “925 Sterling Silver” or just 925 Silver.
Silver has to be mixed with other metals as it is very soft on its own. Some hardness by adding other metals like copper or brass means jewelers can make intricate designs with 925 sterling silver.
Pure silver won’t tarnish from the environment, although copper in 925 sterling silver will react, which causes sterling silver to tarnish.
Wear your sterling silver jewelry frequently, and the oils from your skin naturally clean sterling silver every time you wear your pieces of jewelry and prevent tarnish.
One other way to delay tarnishing is to store sterling silver in an airtight container with an anti-tarnish strip that absorbs moisture). (Learn How to Clean Water Stain from Leather Bag)
Can You Shower with Sterling Silver?
You can shower with sterling silver jewelry without harm, yet soaps and body washes can cause it to tarnish or buildup with soap scum. Pure silver won’t tarnish on its own, and it is other things that make tarnishing a reality on your pieces.