Sterling Silver and Rhodium Plated Jewelry – Taking Care of Your Jewelry

Sterling Silver Jewelry Care Overview

Silver, in all its luminous guises, has co-reigned alongside gold for over 6,000 years as the ‘Queen of Precious Metals’. However, of all the heirs to silver, it is sterling silver with its intrinsic beauty, value, and durability, that has secured a place in the history books as one of the most popular means of personal adornment.

Owning a prestigious item like sterling silver jewelry should be undertaken with an eye toward the future. Like all precious metals, the value of sterling silver increases over time, and one day your jewelry could well become a priceless family heirloom, so caring for it now can only pay dividends in the future. However, in order to understand the proper care and maintenance of your sterling silver jewelry, it is first necessary to look at the history of sterling silver.

Both silver and sterling silver are precious metals and both are closely related, but not the same. Pure silver is quite soft and therefore does not hold its shape; Sterling silver was invented as a more durable form of this highly malleable and lustrous metal, lending its hard-wearing properties to the creation of frequently worn jewelry.

Sterling silver is 92.5 percent true silver; the remaining 7.5 percent is made up of an alloy, usually copper or zinc. Sterling silver tarnishes, this is caused by a reaction between silver and sulfur-containing oxygen particles in the air. The following guide gives you some helpful tips on how to preserve your sterling silver gemstone jewelry in the condition you want for future generations.


Store your sterling silver jewelry in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight or other sources of extreme heat, such as radiators. A perfect place is a jewelry box among your clothes.

Sterling silver jewelry, as is the case with all fine jewelry, should be kept on its own in a separate compartment in a jewelry box or in its own soft pouch. If you don’t, they will eventually scratch or even break if there are gemstones in the jewelry.

Never store your sterling silver jewelry in boxes filled with paper, cardboard or cotton, as they contain trace elements of sulfur. For best results, place items in a sealed, airtight plastic bag or jeweler’s sulfur-free tissue paper before packing and wrapping.

cleaning and polishing

Over time sterling silver will develop a smooth patina caused by “oxidation” resulting in an “antique” look where tarnish accumulates on fine details giving your sterling silver jewelry an beautiful and unique. You may or may not appreciate this aspect; you should consider this before attempting to clean your jewelry.

The best way to preserve and encourage the tarnished “antique” look of sterling silver jewelry can be done by not cleaning the jewelry with water and by not wearing it in the shower or bath.

The best way to prevent tarnishing is to wear your sterling silver jewelry as often as possible.

If your sterling silver does tarnish, it is easily restored to its former glory by using warm water with a mild soap, rinsing it, and then making sure to dry it thoroughly with a fine, soft cloth. Soaking is discouraged.

Use a soft cloth, similar to the cloth provided with the glasses, with light, even strokes to clean the broadest surface, and cotton swabs or cotton swabs in the same way to reach the most difficult corners.

Never use tissue or hard brushes, including toothbrushes, when cleaning or polishing your sterling silver, as they will leave scratch marks. This is especially important if there are precious stones such as pearls mounted on your jewelry.

Polishing must be done quickly and all polishing residue must be removed afterwards. Leaving traces of enamel can dull the design by clogging the etched areas.

Silver pastes, treated polishing cloths, or other sterling silver cleaning materials should be used under the supervision of your local jeweler, especially if gemstones are present, as these chemicals can destroy gemstones.

Do’s and Don’ts

Always remove sterling silver jewelry before applying sunscreen, skin creams, and swimming in salt or chlorinated water.

Never wear your jewelry when working with detergents, bleaches, ammonia, or alcohols; These chemicals will cause discoloration, damage, and loosen gemstones.

Never use an ultrasonic cleaner, ammonia, or any chemical solution to clean opaque gemstones, such as turquoise, malachite, onyx, lapis lazuli, and opals. They are a porous stone and can absorb chemicals, which accumulate within the stone and cause discoloration. Just wipe them gently with a soft damp cloth until clean.

Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Care

Some sterling silver jewelry is rhodium plated; this is designed to make your jewelry tarnish resistant. Caring for rhodium-plated sterling silver jewelry requires a different approach than non-plated sterling silver jewelry.

Clean with a soft polishing cloth or fine cleaner, but never use chemical based silver cleaners as this will damage the rhodium finish and also the embedded gemstones.

If you own antique sterling silver jewelery or rhodium plated sterling silver jewellery, we recommend that you seek the expert advice of your local jeweller, who will be able to tell you about the best jewelery cleaning product brands in your area.

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