How to Keep Sterling Silver Tarnish-Free

Keep your silver shiny by preventing tarnish.

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Just as your environment affects your skin and hair, it also affects your sterling silver jewelry. Sterling silver has that bling factor when it's at its best, but looks drab and dirty when tarnished. To keep your jewelry -- and yourself -- looking fab, stop tarnish before it starts.

Tarnish Causes

When sterling silver reacts with sulfur-containing pollutants in the air, it begins to turn dark and dull. Whenever your jewelry is exposed to the air or other pollutants, such as the oils in your skin, the reaction occurs. Try all you want, but you'll never be able to prevent tarnish completely. What you can do is minimize how often your bling is exposed to tarnish-causing environments.

Storage

If sulfur and other pollutants in the air cause your sterling silver jewelry to tarnish, then you can prevent and reduce tarnish by storing your silver in airtight containers. Store individual pieces of jewelry in small, acid-free plastic zipper bags, and to keep your jewelry cleaner in the process. Each time you don your silver accessory, give it a quick wipe down with a silver polishing cloth before returning it to it's bag. Removing any pollutants on the jewelry from regular wear could help slow tarnishing.

Professional Solutions

If you're really serious about putting the brakes on tarnish, a few store-bought products could really help you out. No matter where you store your sterling silver jewelry, include a strip of anti-tarnish paper and a pack of silica gel. Anti-tarnish paper contains charcoal to help absorb airborne pollutants so they don't react with the silver. Change the strips every two to six months. Silica gel helps absorb moisture from the air in the container where your jewelry is stored.

Home Remedy

For a quick and less-expensive anti-tarnish fix, place a few pieces of chalk in the container where you're storing your jewelry. The chalk works similarly to the anti-tarnish strips by absorbing pollutants in the air. Change the chalk every two to three months as you would the strips.

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