Caring for your Fine Jewelry

Sterling Silver

Much of the sterling silver components that I use in my jewelry already have an anti-tarnish coating so they require little care. For long term use though I feel that your sterling silver pieces should be cared for as you would any of your other precious metal jewelry.

Silver is a soft metal and it is mixed with "other metals" to make a harder silver alloy. Here in the United States the most popular kind of silver is "Sterling Silver" and by law it must be a combination of 92.5 parts pure silver and 7.5 parts of another metal. "Fine Silver" is also available and it must be at least 99.9% pure silver. Fine silver is softer than sterling silver and is not used as much as sterling silver here in the U.S.

Copper is often used as the "other metal" to harden silver, but it has a tendency to darken or tarnish sterling silver when the silver comes in contact with air or other substances. This tarnish looks gray or black and can be removed with silver cleaner and other methods.

I find the best way to keep sterling silver or fine silver looking bright and fresh is:

I use both the Pacific Cloth jewelry cloth and plastic bags so I know both work well. I have lots of sterling silver jewelry that are kept in plastic bags for many years and still have no tarnish on them.

I have also read that:

work well to absorb the tarnish and keep silver very clean.

After wearing a silver piece, it's always best to wipe it with a jewelry polishing cloth which you can purchase from various local and online suppliers. For sterling silver earrings I clean the part that goes into the ear lobe with the ear cleaner that I bought when I had my ears pierced. Once the earrings are dry, I put them in a plastic bag or lined jewelry box and they will be ready to wear.

All of these things are extra work but, then, your pieces are ready to wear whenever you want without having to clean them.

Gold Fill

Since gold-colored jewelry is becoming popular again, I've started working with gold-filled components again. I do like the warm glow of gold and find it looks more alive with certain gemstones than sterling silver.

Gold-filled jewelry is composed of a solid layer of gold bonded by heat and pressure to a base metal such as brass. In the U.S. the quality of gold filled is defined by the Federal Trade Commission. If the gold layer uses 14 kt the minimum layer of 14 karat gold in an item stamped GF must equal at least 1/20 the weight of the total item. Gold-filled items are 50 to 100,000 times thicker than regular gold plating and they should last a lifetime of daily wear. Gold-filled jewelry wears much better than gold plate which is just a thin covering of gold over the base metal.

After wearing your gold-filled jewelry, just wipe it with a jewelry polishing cloth and store it in your jewelry box. For gold-filled earrings, clean them with the ear cleaner that can be purchased where ears are pierced. Once they are dry, place them in your jewelry box. You don't need to keep gold-filled jewelry in plastic bags.

To protect all of your jewelry, salt water, chlorine (swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs) and all heavy detergents and cleaning agents should be avoided.