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.
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.
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.