Remove jewelry when appropriate.
Don’t wear your silver jewelry when doing any physical activities like housework, gardening, and other manual tasks. This will eliminate the possibility of physical damage or damage from exposure to chemicals and cleaning products such as bleach, ammonia, alcohol and acetone.
Jewelry should be the last thing you put on when dressing.
Apply makeup, hairspray, perfumes and lotions first. Then when dry, put on your jewelry. This will limit the chances of your jewelry being damaged by the chemicals commonly found in these products.
No jewelry in pools or spas.
Jewelry should never be worn in pools and spas. The chemical agents common in pools and spas, especially chlorine, can react with the alloys in silver jewelry causing unwanted color changes and even structural damage.
Sports and jewelry don’t mix.
All jewelry should be removed before participating in any sporting activities. Hard blows can easily damage fine jewelry. Tight grips on things like tennis racquets and baseball bats can also lead to the bending a breaking of ring shanks. You can also potentially damage fellow participants if your jewelry comes into contact with their skin.
Dedicate a safe place to store your jewelry.
Silver jewelry deserves to be cared for properly, and how you store your jewelry is very important. A cool, dry place will help reduce the amount of oxidation or tarnishing that naturally occurs over time. Storing silver jewelry with anti-tarnish cloths or strips will also help slow the tarnishing process. Ideally, you should wrap each piece separately in an anti-tarnish cloth and place it into its own soft pouch or plastic bag. Never store multiple items in a way that they can come into contact with each other as scratching will result.
Clean your silver jewelry as needed.
Silver jewelry that’s worn often will rarely tarnish.
One of the quickest and easiest things you can do to keep your silver jewelry sparkling is to wipe each piece immediately after you take it off and then store it properly.
Prompt cleaning is especially important when your silver comes into contact with foods containing sulfur or foods that are acidic or salty. In particular, common foods like table salt, eggs, onions, mayonnaise and undiluted vinegar are harmful to silver jewelry. If your jewelry comes into contact with these items, wash and rinse it right away to prevent tarnish and discoloration.
When tarnish is present, simple hand washing may not be enough to remove it. Your best option is to use a commercially available silver polish. The process is relatively simple, but be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. You should polish using back and forth motions, not circular; to avoid dulling the item’s finish. Move to different sections of your polishing cloth often to avoid re-depositing tarnish back on the piece. You can use a cotton ball or Q-Tip for small detailed areas, but never use a tissue or paper towels as they contain harsh chemical and can be abrasive. Also, don’t scrub. Use a light touch and let the polish do the work.
There are chemical dips sold to clean silver, but because of their harshness, they should be used sparingly and only when other cleaning methods have proven unsuccessful. Follow directions carefully and never use a dip to clean a piece of silver jewelry set with gemstones as the stones may be damaged.
Your friends may have suggested toothpaste or baking soda to clean silver. These are both more abrasive that professionally formulated polishes and should be avoided as they may damage the finish on your pieces.
As with any piece of fine jewelry, particularly if it is very intricate or has great sentimental value, consult your professional jeweler for the best cleaning options. Also, many fine jewelry stores will offer silver cleaning as one of their services.