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If you don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning your silver, knowing how to prevent tarnish is a lifesaver. Being exposed to air is one of the main causes of discoloration on sterling silver beads. To keep your beads and sterling silver jewelry looking great, store each piece in an airtight bag when not in use. Simple zippered plastic bags work well. Be sure to place each item in its own bag. This prevents scratches and keeps chains from becoming tangled.
While many people only wear sterling silver jewelry for special occasions in an effort to prevent discoloration, the oils from your skin can actually help silver maintain its shine. Wearing jewelry featuring sterling silver beads is the best and easiest way to keep tarnish at bay. It’s important to note, though, that things you come in contact with could cause damage or tarnish. Avoid chlorinated water, harsh cleaning chemicals, etc. while wearing your jewelry.
Cleaning your sterling silver beads isn’t difficult, but it is important to do so the right way in order to avoid damaging your jewelry. For your more durable pieces, the electrolyte cleaning method is the way to go. Line a bowl with aluminum foil with the dull side facing downward. Place your jewelry in the bowl, ensuring that it contacts the foil. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda into a cup of boiling water and then pour the solution onto your jewelry. Wait two to 10 minutes and then rinse your jewelry and beads with cool water and dry with a cool cloth. During this process, you may notice a “rotten egg” smell. This is completely normal and just means that the process is working.
For more delicate jewelry pieces, such as necklaces or other accessories featuring sterling silver beads along with porous gemstone beads (like turquoise, onyx or opal) or clear gems, you have to be a bit more careful about cleaning. When attempting to clean delicate items, start by using a gentle soap and water. If that does not work, combine baking soda and water to form a paste. Apply a pea-sized amount to a polishing cloth and gently polish your beads to remove tarnish. A soft-bristled brush may work as well. A soft-bristled toothbrush is a great option. When you are finished, rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
White vinegar and baking soda can be used to clean heavily tarnished pieces, as long as they do not contain soft gemstones. Combine two tablespoons of baking soda and half a cup of white vinegar. This will cause some serious fizzing and bubbling. Apply the solution to your jewelry and clean using a polishing cloth or soft brush. When you are finished, rinse thoroughly and dry carefully.
Never use abrasive cleaners or brushes that are too stiff when cleaning your sterling silver beads. Though they are quite durable, it isn’t difficult to scratch them if you attempt to clean them using the wrong supplies. Delicate pieces of sterling silver jewelry require gentle cleaning.