Applefield Direct   Religious and Family Jewelry

How to Care for Sterling Silver

Sterling silver jewelry has become very popular. Here is some background information and some tips about sterling silver.


Sterling Silver is a copper-silver alloy and is somewhat softer than most gold alloys. Therefore, it is more likely to be abraded to black dust by relative movement between the jewelry and the skin or clothing. Sterling silver jewelry has a pronounced tendency to tarnish. The tarnish is always due to the contact with sulfur compounds. The main cause of tarnish, of silver, is a trace of hydrogen sulfide gas in the air. This gas is particularly present in smoke from burnt raw fuel, such as coal or oil; in some strong smelling foods; such as eggs and onions, in some fish or shell-fish; and in polluted air. The tarnish may turn the jewelry black and may be rubbed off on the skin or clothing. A few people, especially with moist skin, may find that the sterling silver stains their skin green. This is due to the copper component of the silver alloy. When this occurs you should polish your jewelry frequently and use an absorbent powder on those moist skin areas, which come into contact with your jewelry.

Other Problems and Solutions

Soap, detergent, wax, polish and cosmetic creams may build up under a ring causing a type of dermatitis. To prevent this, you should remove all rings before using soap or detergent, and clean the rings frequently. The wearing of silver jewelry when manipulating photographic chemicals or solutions may cause staining of the skin. When silver is attacked by a chemical solution, such as nitric acid, the solution of silver salt formed is reduced back to a silver by the skin. The silver is in a finely divided form and causes an intensely black stain. Silver jewelry should be removed before working with photographic chemicals or solutions.

We offer this information not as an excuse, but to clarify the reasons, provide the facts and offer solutions for those who may encounter the problems described.

Applefield Direct
Westminster, Maryland USA


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