Sterling Silver tarnishes from the interaction of silver and sulfides in the air. First the tarnish will take on a golden hue, and eventually, it will turn the piece black. Copper and Brass also tarnish. This is a natural process. You can’t stop this process, so accept the beautiful piece of metal for what it is. With very little effort on your part you can keep it looking nice.
Please note: Many of the pieces created by LaJeanne Design have been deliberately darkened for design purpose or dramatic effect through oxidation. This is different than natural tarnishing. Many of the liquid cleaners will remove this patina and ruin the look. The best way to clean these pieces is simply rubbing the raised or highlighted areas with a soft polishing cloth. The oxidized parts do not need polishing.
As you have been handling and wearing your pieces of jewelry it has picked up oils from your body, lotions and maybe perfume. These need to be cleaned off regularly to keep the jewelry looking good.
1. The best way to clean your jewelry is with a professional jewelry polishing cloth. This works for sterling silver as well as copper. The cloth is treated with cleaning chemicals. Simply rub the part gently with the cloth and it will remove the tarnish and bring back the shine. If you do not have any polishing cloths on hand, then just polish it up with a soft cotton cloth. A "clean" old cotton t-shirt works well. It must be clean, any grit in it will scratch. Do not use the polishing cloth on your gemstones!
Jewelry With Gemstones:
2. To remove light dirt, fingerprints or makeup, liquid jewelry cleaners that do not contain ammonia are recommended. If you do no have that, then just use a small amount of mild liquid detergent to a 1/2 cup of warm water and rinse thoroughly with clean fresh water. We do not recommend cleaning your jewelry with toothpaste and a toothbrush, as some people suggest, as you may scratch the silver. Avoid abrasive cleaners, detergents and commercial jewelry cleaners, "dips", especially if the piece has an oxidized finish. Using harsh polishing cleaners will alter the antique look of your jewelry. NEVER use chlorine bleach.
3. Dry it completely before storing it in an air tight zip lock bag to keep the air out. You may also want to add anti-tarnish strips.
When cleaning gemstone beads or cabochons, immerse them in warm, soapy water, and scrub gently with a soft brush. Then rinse them and lay them on a soft towel to dry. Some stones like turquoise, opals and pearls are quite porous and you need to be careful not to expose them to cleaners with ammonia.
- When you purchase silver jewelry, the first thing to remember is that silver is a soft metal. We recommend that you store your jewelry so that it isn't rubbing up against other articles, like in a loose drawer or jewelry box. Also, when storing, remember that exposing it to air promotes tarnishing, so use zip lock bags to protect from scratches and tarnish.
- Never leave silver jewelry lying against bare wood. Wood, especially oak, contains an acid that will mar the surface of the silver. Avoid storing your sterling silver jewelry directly on wood surfaces, because wood usually contains acids that can mar the finish. Oak seems to be the worst for this. Also, avoid storing your sterling silver with other metals, like pennies, and rubber, these too cause tarnish and damage. Paper and cardboard, since they are wood pulp products, will have the same effect, so avoid storing silver in envelopes or small cardboard boxes also.