Sterling silver jewelry is beautiful and elegant; it’s why many people choose this metal for their rings! However, there is more to jewelry than just the way that it looks. What some may not think about initially is how long sterling silver may last and what you should do to maintain its appearance.
Some rings you can wear all the time with no issue, but this isn’t the case with sterling silver. These rings require quite a bit of special attention and care. Today, we’re going to talk about why you should not wear your sterling silver jewelry all the time and what you can do to make sure that your ring will last for decades to come!
Why Not to Wear Sterling Silver Rings 24/7
You may be wondering what’s so bad about wearing sterling silver rings all the time, and that’s understandable. The problem isn’t the amount of time that you wear them, but the activities that you do while wearing your rings and how it will affect the metal.
There is one major reason why you should take your sterling silver ring off for certain activities – tarnish. When exposed to open air or water for extended periods of time, sterling silver tarnishes. Tarnish is a layer of corrosion that forms over your ring that causes the metal to look dull and old.
It can be cleaned off, but polishing a sterling silver ring can be tedious. It’s better to delay the tarnishing process as long as you can for your own convenience.
Three Things to Avoid When Wearing Sterling Silver
There are three things you should avoid while wearing your sterling silver ring: moisture, chemicals, and impure air. Temporary exposure to any of the three won’t necessarily tarnish your ring, but long term exposure will. There are some specific examples of when to avoid wearing your sterling silver ring that we’re going to go over to help you understand when to leave your jewelry in its special place.
Moisture, in this case, refers to both water and humidity in the air. The more that you expose your ring to it, the more quickly you will notice tarnish building up. Avoid wearing your ring when:
Tempted to leave your ring on when you hop into the tub or shower? Don’t. You will be exposing the metal to humidity and water as well as the chemicals in your soaps. This is one of the quickest ways to tarnish it.
If you go swimming in the ocean, a pool, a hot tub, or any other body of water, leave your sterling silver at home where it belongs. If you don’t have that option, at least be sure to place it somewhere safe and dry. Water, salt, and chlorine can really dull your ring’s shine.
- Washing Your Hands
Leaving your ring on while you wash your hands isn’t harmful if you only do so a couple of times and immediately dry if after, but it still adds to the inevitable tarnish.
Household cleaners and soaps are not your friends when it comes to your jewelry. What may not be harsh to your skin can still harm your sterling silver ring. Either wear gloves while you clean or store your jewelry while doing chores.
- Open Air
In any environment with less than 100% pure oxygen, your sterling silver ring will gradually tarnish. This means that leaving it out in the open exposes your jewelry to this effect, especially if the air is humid.
How to Properly Care for Your Sterling Silver Ring
To best avoid damage and tarnishing to your ring, you should know how to properly care for and store it. Remember, tarnish is inevitable, but you can delay it.
- Keep It Clean
Every time you take off your ring, make sure that it is completely clean and dry. Water damages it, especially if you expose your sterling silver to it for extended periods of time. In order to clean your ring after regular use, you should wipe it down with a soft microfiber cloth.
- Wear it As Much As Possible
There are plenty of times when you shouldn’t wear your sterling silver, but try and wear it as much as possible when safe to do so. The natural oils from your hands will act as a sort of barrier on the metal that adds some measure of protection from tarnish.
- Avoid Doing Certain Activities
You know the basics of when to keep your ring off, but there are a few examples that you may not have considered when you should avoid wearing your sterling silver jewelry. These situations include:
- Putting on cosmetics/lotion/perfume/cologne
- Painting your nails/taking nail polish off
All of these activities require exposing your ring to one of its three enemies: moisture, impure air, and harsh chemicals.
- Store It Properly
Properly storing your sterling silver jewelry is the best way to keep it sparkling like new for a long while. Unlike other metals, this requires a bit more effort.
First, you should store your ring in a box or bag. If you are using a ring box or jewelry box, place your ring in a ring cushion. If you don’t have one, store your sterling silver ring in its own bag with a silica gel pack inserted to keep the air as fresh as possible.
If you are storing your ring in a bag, keep it out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry place. This helps you avoid unnecessary humidity and heat.
Put your ring in storage after every use. Leaving it out on the counter or in a drawer with other items can scratch and tarnish it.
How to Polish and Clean Your Ring
When you do eventually notice signs of tarnish on your sterling silver ring, it’s vital that you have it polished and properly cleaned. You have several options for restoring your ring to optimal shine again!
- Take it to a professional jewelry cleaner
One of your best and most convenient options is to take your tarnished silver jewelry to a professional cleaner. All you need to do is drop it off and come back later for pickup after the job is done. Of course, you have to pay for this service. If you feel that you’d rather go the DIY route, read on.
- DIY ring polishing/cleaning
Cleaning and polishing your ring by yourself can be tedious, but it’s possible and affordable. You just need to follow instructions carefully and be gentle.Soap and Water
- Fill a cup with slightly warm water and mild soap (i.e. Dawn)
- Place your ring in the cup and hand wash it gently, removing the tarnish.
- Use a cotton swab when needed to clean the crevices, especially over engravings on the band and around gemstones.
- Remove any stubborn leftover tarnish with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Remove the ring from your cup of water.
- Wipe the ring with a soft cloth to dry it thoroughly before storing again.
- Make a paste of baking soda and water.
- Place a pea-sized amount on your sterling silver ring.
- Use a cloth to wipe away tarnish and a cotton swab/soft-bristled toothbrush to clean crevices and stubborn tarnish.
- Gently rinse the paste from the ring.
- Wipe the ring with a soft cloth and dry it thoroughly.
- Soak your ring in a solution of ½ cup of white vinegar and 2 tbsp. of baking soda.
- Check on the ring occasionally; after around 2 hours, it should be ready to be cleaned.
- Rinse the tarnish and the solution from your ring.
- Dry it thoroughly with a clean cloth.
Lemon Juice and Olive Oil
- In a bowl, mix ½ cup of lemon juice with 1 tsp. of olive oil.
- Dip a soft microfiber cloth in this solution and rub it on your sterling silver ring.
- Gently rub off tarnish to clean and polish the ring.
- Rinse the ring and wipe it dry thoroughly with a clean cloth.
Typical Longevity of a Sterling Silver Ring
The average lifespan of sterling silver jewelry is 20-30 years. If you follow all of these instructions carefully and avoid anything that can damage your ring, though, your ring may last forever!
In summary, the longevity of your ring depends on the care you give it, including:
- Wearing it as much as possible
- Storing it properly
- Always wiping it with a cloth after use
- Avoiding moisture, chemicals, and impure air
- Cleaning it only with approved methods
Sterling silver jewelry is a wonderful investment; as long as you keep your ring well-maintained, you can cherish it for a lifetime! Be aware of your daily life and your limits. If you can’t maintain sterling silver jewelry as you should, then there are other options for you when it comes to metal in your ring. Take a look at these options when you click on the link found here.