Precious Metal Care
Sterling silver has a beautiful lustre when polished but can tarnish easily, turning grey or blackish as the silver oxidises. Each time you wear your silver jewellery, give it a quick wipe with a soft microfibre cloth to make sure any skin oils or other residue are cleaned from the metal as these will speed up the tarnishing process. Don’t wear or store your silver in moist environments, such as a steamy bathroom.
If you need to clean your silver jewellery because it has become tarnished, there are a number of proprietary silver cleaners available. These can be liquid ‘silver dips’ or ‘silver baths’, or a cream which can be buffed into the silver, or a fabric polishing cloth imbued with a chemical to help remove the tarnish. Always check if a product is suitable for your jewellery before using a liquid or cream cleaner – some special finishes can be damaged by these cleaners. If in doubt, a silver polishing cloth and a bit of elbow grease will have most silver jewellery shining like new!
Care of gold jewellery depends on a number of factors, including whether your jewellery is 9ct, 14ct or 18ct purity, and whether you have yellow gold or white gold items.
Similar to silver, we would recommend gently wiping your gold jewellery with a soft cloth whenever you handle it to keep it free of surface dirt and any contaminants that may cause it to tarnish. 18ct gold is generally resistant to tarnishing as it contains 75% pure gold, meaning it doesn’t react easily with environmental triggers that cause tarnish to form. 14ct gold is similarly resistant, however 9ct gold is prone to tarnishing. This is because other metals involved in the alloying process are more likely to react with moisture or chemicals in the atmosphere to form tarnish.
If your 9ct gold jewellery has started to go dull, a proprietary polishing cloth imbued with a cleaning chemical to remove the tarnish can be used to polish it back to a high shine. For items like chains or inside of stone settings, where it is hard to polish, the use of liquid cleaners such as ‘gold dip’ or ‘gold baths’ can help remove tarnish. However, some stone set items should not be cleaned with these liquid cleaners. Whilst hard gemstones such as diamond, sapphire and ruby will be unaffected, softer gemstones can be discoloured by the liquid cleaners. Never submerge porous gemstones such as pearls, opals or turquoise in liquid cleaners. These items must be polished by hand.
White Gold has a thin layer of a metal called rhodium on it, which gives it a bright white finish and protects the gold from tarnishing. However over time this layer does wear off, leading to a yellowing in appearance of your white gold. Whilst many people call this ‘tarnishing’ it is actually just the natural white gold colour showing through. Your jewellery will need to be re-rhodiumed to bring back the bright white look, which can be carried out in a professional jeweller’s workshop. Sadly there is nothing that can be done at home to remedy the loss of rhodium. The good news is that rhodiuming is an inexpensive process, and your jewellery comes back looking like brand new!
Platinum is a remarkable metal as it is very pure, and very unreactive meaning it does not form tarnish – it stays naturally white all the time. However, it can pick up a patina of surface scratches or dents which over time will give a satin-y sheen. Polishing your platinum regularly with a soft microfibre cloth is all the care that is required for this hard-wearing metal.