Sterling silver can be used to create some beautiful pieces of jewelry or to help accent or decorate other pieces, such as silverware. The only issue, as most likely many of you who own sterling silver can attest to, is that the metal is quite prone to tarnishing.
If you are currently reading this article, then you are also most likely looking for some advice and tricks that you can use to clean and rejuvenate your pieces of silver back to their untarnished states. Keep reading to learn how to clean sterling silver necklace pieces to restore them to shiny beauty.
But quickly, before we get to cleaning them, it wouldn’t hurt to understand why the metal tarnishes in the first place. Sterling silver is an alloy metal, which means that it typically consists of about 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. The copper is added to the silver metal for one main reason: to make it a bit harder. This addition is required because pure silver is actually incredibly soft. So much so that you can even scratch it by pressing your fingernail into it.
The added copper helps make it a bit more durable and more challenging to avoid this issue. You can still find fine silver, which is made out of 99.9% silver. However, fine silver is only used to help accent other pieces of more stable jewelry. While the copper might help to give the silver its form and durability, it does come with the downside that it causes the tarnishing due to it being a reactive metal.
Reactive metals are metals that react in different ways with different substances. Copper, for instance, oxidizes when exposed to oxygen, which makes it turn that greenish-blue color with which you are likely familiar. That said, sterling silver tarnishes due to other factors as well, of which there are a couple of them. Factors that can cause tarnishing can range from natural body sweat to creams, colognes, and the air.
How to Clean Your Piece of Sterling Silver
You can use several techniques for cleaning, and we’ll start with the water and soap technique first. To start, heat a bowl of water until it is warm, not hot, and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid into the water. Mix it around a bit, and then submerge your sterling necklace for about 15 minutes.
Afterward, you can use an old toothbrush to clean between the links and over the whole string. Rinse your necklace afterward again in warm water. Once done, you will need to dry it. Ideally, we recommend that you use a microfiber cloth, never kitchen or toilet paper, to do this and dry it as much as possible before laying it out to dry thoroughly.
Another method is to use lemon juice and olive oil. To make the solution, fill half a cup with lemon juice and then add a teaspoon of olive oil to it before stirring. Then, with a clean cloth, preferably cotton, place it into the solution and rub it over the entire length of the necklace. Next, you will need to thoroughly rinse the necklace with warm water before drying it in the same manner as mentioned earlier. While lemon juice is acidic, it will not damage your necklace, and, in fact, the acidity perfectly reacts to the tarnished buildup.
The same can be said with distilled vinegar which functions similarly to the lemon. For this method, you will need to fill half a cup with distilled vinegar (regular white vinegar) and throw in about two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda (ordinary baking soda) into the same cup. You will then need to soak your necklace for around three hours, definitely quite the wait. After three hours have passed, you can then remove the necklace and rinse it under warm water before drying it in the same manner as mentioned earlier.
While there are a handful of other methods and techniques that you can use, these three should serve you well and do the trick. We hope this article on how to clean your sterling silver necklace, or another piece of silver, was helpful and of use to you.