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More Precious Metals Details

Caring for Silver

Caring for your silver pieces and silver jewelry is an important part of making them last forever.

How To Make Your Silver Jewelry Last

tarnished and polished silver
Side by side examples of tarnished and polished silver.

Silver tarnish is caused by sulfur in the atmosphere, which combines with the silver itself to form silver sulfide. Contrary to popular belief, silver that is stored usually tarnishes faster than silver that is used everyday.  The best way to avoid tarnish is to use your silver, wash it regularly, and polish it gently with a soft cloth.

antique afghan silver tribal bracelet
An antique Afghan silver tribal bracelet that has some tarnishing.

Tarnished silver will clean nicely with a good polish, but excessive polishing can remove hallmarks and some of the finer details of engraving.  Some polishes contain ingredients that coat the surface and help to preserve the shiny luster , so the silver does not require as much work to maintain.  

silver storage bag
Treated storage bags will keep silver items shiny and bright.

If brushes are used to clean crevices, make sure they have soft bristles.  Impregnated cotton polishing cloths or a good chamois leather can help to maintain silver between regular cleaning sessions.  If silver is stored, use treated bags or tissue that resist tarnish.

Sometimes silicone is applied to the surface of a silver piece so that it will not tarnish.  A silicone coating will be effective for up to five years.  Occasionally, silver is rhodium plated to prevent tarnishing, although purists dislike the bright color that results.

Next, learn about the Catalytic Converter | The Science of Precious Metals.

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