The excitement of wearing it for the first time, the compliments you receive from friends and family, often with a touch of envy in their voice, and the number of times you catch yourself admiring it. We all know how great it feels and a large part of the initial joy is the jewellery’s shine and polish. Now, just like any new item, the shine and polish can dull and fade. With silver there are two contributing factors in play, Patina and tarnish.
Tarnish is probably the word that most of us will be familiar with and is certainly what can occur first. Patina is less well known and is a quality of silver as opposed to an issue. The best way to describe Patina would be as a soft, grey, lustrous finish which develops on silver which has both been cared for and well used. In particular, rings often take on Patina which is formed by tiny marks on the silver. These marks are acquired by silver as it is a soft metal, similar to gold, and form what is often called a “living finish”.
Unfortunately the biggest cause of silver tarnishing is all around us and we couldn’t live without it. The very air that we breathe contains elements like oxygen and sulphur which react with silver. This reaction creates the dull film on the surface of the silver ranging from light yellow to black which we all know as tarnish. This will even happen if you keep your jewellery in a box and only wear it occasionally. Ask any jewellery shop, they will tell you that they are constantly polishing all the stock on display. Silver can also be tarnished by sea water, swimming pools and soaps.
If you are using a polishing cloth, here are a few simple rules;
- Invest in a silver polishing cloth, never use tissues or paper towels
- Gently polish in the direction of the grain of the silver
- Never polish in circles
- Keep you cloth in an airtight bag, usually supplied with the cloth
- Avoid getting dirt and dust on your cloth, especially abrasive grits
- Use an old toothbrush to get into hard to reach areas
- Always wash your hands afterwards