Proper care and storage of your sterling silver jewelry means you will have many years of pleasure and your jewelry will continue to look like new. Sterling silver will tarnish over time and with a little care will continue to look beautiful. With some pieces, you may even wish to leave some "color" to enhance the contrasts or aged appearance of your jewelry.

Types of Cloths/Brushes

Because sterling silver is a relatively soft metal, it will scratch easily. For best results use only use only soft, lint-free 100% cotton cloth. Terry cloth, synthetic fabrics or any coarse cloth may cause fine surface scratches which will trap tarnish, dirt and polish. This will cause your jewelry to lose its luster and appear duller over time.

You may clean your silver jewelry with a very soft brush, like a baby's toothbrush, a horsehair brush or brushes sold for this purpose. Some have successfully used mushroom brushes. The bristles of the brush must be very soft and used gently. There's no place for rough treatment or harsh scrubbing if you wish to preserve the luster of your jewelry.

Anti-tarnish polishing cloths are available and are very inexpensive. These are both handy and easy to use. However, if your jewelry includes gem stones, you'll need to be careful not to rub the stone(s) with the cloth. It could, over time, damage the stone.

Types of Cleaners

For the same reasons, a soft cloth is necessary so is a soft, gentle cleanser. There are several options available.

For light cleaning, a mild detergent and warm water will often do the trick. Just make sure that you are using a lint-free soft cotton cloth to gently clean your jewelry. Once cleaned and rinsed thoroughly, gently dry completely before storing.

You can also purchase a silver cleaning dip just make sure that you do not immerse the stone. Gently wipe with a soft cloth and rinse with cool water. Always make sure your jewelry is completely dry before storing.

There are a number of excellent quality silver polishes and pastes that you may wish to use for pieces that are more heavily soiled. Again, do not rub the polish on the gem stone as it may dull the surface over time. Be sure to rinse your piece thoroughly and remove all polish or paste. If your jewelry is a plain silver piece, with no gem stone, you may want to use a silver polish spray.

Ultrasonic cleaners are not recommended for any silver jewelry with gem stones and particularly any that are porous, like turquoise. The cleaner may harm the stone. If your silver jewelry has no setting, then you may use an ultrasonic cleaner.

How to Clean

If you've ever noticed a black car that has been repeatedly hand washed, you'll notice the circular scratches that inevitably show. Keep that in mind when you're cleaning your jewelry. Use a lengthwise gentle motion to wipe your jewelry clean rather than a circular one. Any surface scratches that occur will be less noticeable. Make sure that you rinse your jewelry completely and gently dry with a clean, soft cloth.

How to store

Storing each piece of silver jewelry separately will reduce the amount of scratching that occurs in a jewelry box. Using an airtight zipped bag plastic or specially purchased anti-tarnish bags will help reduce tarnishing over time.

Silver jewelry is meant to be worn. Actually our body oils act as a barrier to tarnish most of the problem will come in storing the jewelry. A little consistent care will go a long way to keeping your sterling silver jewelry beautiful for a lifetime. But if you're like most of us and get busy with other things, it's nice to know that silver jewelry is quite forgiving.

About the Author

Terry Lewis is a silver jewelry enthusiast who owns and operates an e-tail silver jewelry store. Stop by and browse our extensive selection of affordable silver and gem stone jewelry at