When you find that perfect piece of jewelry, you might never want to take it off. Whether it be a wedding ring, a gifted necklace, or an elegant bracelet, you likely will want to wear it every day.
Every jewelry metal has different properties and requires a different level of care. When it comes to sterling silver jewelry, you may already know that this metal requires you to adhere to a certain set of rules. Following the guidelines of care for sterling silver is the key to preventing tarnish and damage.
Because this jewelry is so delicate, you may be wondering, “Can I wear sterling silver every day?” Today, we’re going to answer that question and more so you can cherish your jewelry for ages to come.
Wearing Sterling Silver Every Day: What You Should Know
Can you wear sterling silver every day? The simple answer is yes. You can (and should) wear your sterling silver as much as possible. However, the answer to your question is more complicated than that. While there are significant benefits to doing this, there are also times you should avoid wearing sterling silver.
Wearing Sterling Silver Every day: Benefits
The main benefit of wearing sterling silver every day is that it helps to prevent tarnishing.
Jewelry made of this material is prone to tarnishing. This means that over time, it develops a thin layer of corrosion that causes the jewelry to appear dull and discolored. This can happen for several reasons, but regular use combats this effect.
The natural oils in your skin will “clean” and polish the jewelry while you wear it. These oils protect the sterling silver from several of the things that speed up the tarnishing process.
Wearing Sterling Silver Every Day: Downsides
The downside to wearing sterling silver every day is that certain activities you participate in can speed up the tarnishing process and damage the jewelry by scratching it. If you are going to wear your jewelry every day, you have to take special care and know when to take it off.
Three Things to Avoid When Wearing Sterling Silver
There are three main things that should be avoided when wearing sterling silver. These significantly speed up the tarnishing process and make proper jewelry care more inconvenient for you.
Moisture in the air (i.e. humidity) and water can tarnish your jewelry. Although one short dip in the water will not likely cause your jewelry to immediately tarnish, it should still be avoided when possible.
If your sterling silver gets wet, be sure to wipe it down with a non-abrasive cloth and let it completely dry before wearing it again.
- Household cleaners/chemicals
When handling chemicals, even those in household cleaners, be sure to store your sterling silver somewhere safely. These chemicals can corrode your jewelry quickly and may cause irreparable damage.
- Open air
Unless you are in an environment with 100% pure oxygen, you can be sure that the air around you will gradually tarnish your sterling silver jewelry. You can wear your jewelry in the open air, but it should never be stored for any length of time out in the open.
When to Avoid Wearing Sterling Silver: Tarnish
Though you can wear it every day if you would like, there are certain times when your jewelry is better off being left in storage.
- Taking a shower/bath
Taking a shower or bath is necessary, of course, but your sterling silver should be stored safely away while doing this. Your jewelry will encounter moisture and chemicals from your soap and will tarnish quickly.
When you go swimming or get in the hot tub, your jewelry will get wet and encounter harsh chemicals from chlorine. Chlorine is significantly harsher than your shampoo and will cause more damage.
Handling household cleaners while wearing your sterling silver is not ideal. These chemicals will tarnish rings and depending on what the cleaner is made of, you could cause deeper damage than surface corrosion.
You should be wearing gloves to clean anyway, as these chemicals can damage your skin anyway. While wearing gloves, you should still take off your sterling silver to avoid accidental contact with these cleaners or moisture from your hands.
- Washing your hands
Even if you use the gentlest of soaps, you are still causing a sterling silver ring to come into contact with water. It’s a common mistake that people make; it’s easy to forget that a ring is on your finger if it’s light enough, and some people think that the short duration of washing hands won’t tarnish their jewelry.
It’s not the end of the world if you accidentally wash your hands with sterling silver jewelry on, but you should dry the piece off completely with a non-abrasive cloth and take it off beforehand in the future.
When to Avoid Wearing Sterling Silver: Scratching
In addition to tarnishing, your sterling silver jewelry is easier to scratch than jewelry made of other materials. Suffice to say, you should avoid wearing it while doing any activity that could scratch it.
- Handling sharp objects or stronger metals
Wearing a sterling silver ring can be tricky because you have to be mindful of handling other metal objects. Sterling silver is placed on the lower end of the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Although it is more durable than pure silver, it is not especially resistant to scratching. Steel, iron, titanium, and tungsten could easily scratch it. When working with kitchenware or sharp objects, you should avoid wearing your jewelry.
- Outdoor activities
If you are an avid hiker or outdoorsman, your sterling silver should be left at home while enjoying some activities the great outdoors has to offer. If your jewelry bumps into rocks or other coarse material like sand, it could get scratched irreparably.
How Do You Take Care of Sterling Silver?
In addition to avoiding activities that may damage your ring, you must also regularly polish/clean your jewelry and store it properly. This will add to the longevity of your piece.
- Polishing Sterling Silver
There are several approved methods of polishing your sterling silver jewelry. Some of the most popular include:
- Taking the jewelry to a professional cleaner. This costs more than DIY polishing, but it ensures less effort on your part and guarantees a wonderfully clean and shiny ring that professional polishers have spent years perfecting.
- Using gentle soap and water. Though water and soap should usually be avoided while wearing sterling silver, you can clean and polish it with both of these things. This is an affordable and quick way to keep your pieces looking like new.
- Lemon juice and olive oil. Lemon juice has been used forever to clean and polish all sorts of household items, and sterling silver is no exception. The citric acid cleans away corrosion and the olive oil polishes the surface.
- Baking soda and vinegar. These two products are often mixed to clean many household items, and they can be used to clean and polish your ring. The reaction between the two items will scrub off tarnish and any tough spots in crevices.
For more information on how to properly clean and polish sterling silver jewelry, click on this link.
- Storing Sterling Silver
Sterling silver storage properly will prevent premature tarnishing and other damage like scratching. You must follow a few simple rules:
- Don’t store your jewelry out in the open air.
- Never store your sterling silver in the sun or heat. It should be kept in a dark, cool place.
- Do not place multiple jewelry pieces in one bag or box. Each piece should be kept in a separate bag.
- Try to make each storage bag as airtight as possible. One easy way to do this is to deflate the storage bag (Ziploc is fine) and then use a straw to suck out the remaining air before closing.
- Be sure that each piece is completely dry and wiped off before putting it away.
- Never store your jewelry in humid environments. The moisture in the air will tarnish your sterling silver and defeat the purpose of storing it.
For more information on proper sterling silver storage, please click on this link.
How Well Does Sterling Silver Hold Up?
If properly taken care of, sterling silver jewelry should last for a minimum of 20 years, and can last for centuries if given enough love and care! The longevity of your jewelry will depend on:
- How often you avoid moisture and chemicals while wearing your jewelry
- Using only approved cleaning methods
- Storing the sterling silver properly
- How often you wear it
In conclusion, you can wear sterling silver every day, but you must do so carefully. Regular wear prevents premature tarnishing ONLY if you avoid wearing it when participating in certain activities. Remember: avoid moisture, open-air, and chemicals if at all possible.
If you take great care of your sterling silver jewelry, you will be able to enjoy it for decades to come and perhaps even pass it down to your children!