Shine Bright: A Guide to Silver Jewellery, it's Care and Cleaning

Shine Bright: A Guide to Silver Jewellery, it's Care and Cleaning

Silver is thought to have been discovered around 7000 years ago. It's maleability leant it to be worked by early craftsmen into a variety of objects right away. 

Early uses for silver were eating and drinking vessels, as well as the creation  ancient sculptures, amulets and, of course, eventually in the creation of jewellery. But at that time only for the ruling classes.

Persian Bull Amulet

In Ancient Egypt, silver jewellery was reserved for kings, queens, and only select others. The Ancient Greeks also used silver for jewellery for the wealthiest classes,  but they also began to use the metal to produce coins.

Graeco Roman Coins

This is a standard that continued for centuries afterwards; throughout the Middle Ages, Tudor, Stuart and Georgian eras.

However, the arrival of the industrial revolution and the Victorian era would mark an important milestone in the history of silver jewellery…

As the capabilities of factories grew and the Victorian middle-class population increased, both the ability to create more jewellery pieces and people's ability to purchase them grew. Given that jewellery had long been considered the perfect gift for one's beloved, those with a modest disposable income to purchase a brooch or ring  soon turned silversmithing into a booming industry.

bird brooch in sterling silver and diamonds

From early Victorian times, sterling silver was the material used as standard in silver jewellery. Sterling silver is an alloy - this metal consisted of around 92.5% pure silver, with 7.5% other metal, usually copper.  The added copper hardens the silver , making it more durable.

Some tribal cultures that work in silver may craft their pieces in 800 silver. This silver is generally softer, has a dusty grey look to it that even makes it look aged even when new. Generally these will have the 800 stamp. See the 800 silver vanity set below. On the other hand, particularly in Mexico a higher silver content alloy may be used, such as 950 silver. In general the number stamped represents the parts per thousand of silver vs another metal.

800 vanity set

We, at JEM Designs, carry a wide array of sterling silver jewellery. It is a good choice for daily wear due to it's durability. Being more affordable than gold allows for one to wear bolder designs and the modern woman to build her own jewellery wardrobe! 

Proper care of Sterling Silver jewellery is essential to keep it gleaming for years. Below is a guide to help you keep your pieces gleaming. 

Many people think that if a silver ring tarnishes it isn't sterling silver. This is a myth. Sterling silver will tarnish and turn black over time. Modern rhodium plating or gold plating stops tarnishing, but also gives silver a slightly different colour tone.  However, this anti tarnish treatment is excellent for use on silver with pearls! As tarnished silver would need to be cleaned, and cleaning solutions are often too harsh for pearls, treating the metal so that it needs no cleaning is a perfect solution. This applies to amber and opals as well.  

When in doubt, consult your local jeweller. 

Caring for Your Silver Jewellery:

  1. Store it Properly!!:

    • Store your silver jewellery in a cool, dry place, and out of direct sunlight. Preferably a dark drawer or jewellery box.
    • Use anti-tarnish pouches or airtight containers to minimize exposure to air, preventing tarnish. Small zip lock bags work well. And those little silica gel packets that you may have - pop them in the bag with your silver. Moisture accelerates tarnishing, so keep the silver dry. 
    • anti tarnish zip lock bags
  2. Wear with Caution:

    • Avoid wearing silver jewellery while swimming in a pool or engaging in activities that involve harsh chemicals.
    • Remove silver pieces before applying lotions, perfumes, or hairsprays to prevent tarnishing.
  3. Clean Regularly:

    • Clean your silver jewellery regularly to prevent tarnish buildup. A gentle  maintainance routine will keep its shine.
    • Use a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe away fingerprints and light tarnish after each wear.

Cleaning Techniques:

  1. Mild Soap and Water:

    • For light tarnish, mix a few drops of mild dish soap with warm water.
    • Gently clean your silver jewellery with a soft toothbrush or cloth.
    • Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a clean, soft cloth.
    • gold plated or vermeil jewellery needs extra gentle care. Do not scrub or polish, just a damp soft cloth should suffice. 
  2. Commercial Silver Cleaners:

    • Use commercial silver cleaners as directed, following the product's instructions carefully. We recommend using only clear liquid solutions  (dip solutions) , as they do not leave residue in the nooks and crannies of intricate designs. Never immerse pearls in these cleaners.
    • Be cautious with these products, as some may be unsuitable for certain gemstones ( amber or opals) . Read the instructions first.
    • jsp silver dip cleaner AT JEM Designs we use this brand. It isn't expensive, does a great job and lasts a very long time. 
    • special silver polishing cloths exist and are good for light daily buffing to maintain a nice shine on the silver, especially with jewellery pieces that have amber or opals that shouldn't be immersed in liquids. 
  3. Professional Cleaning:

    • Periodically, consider professional cleaning for intricate or heavily tarnished pieces.
    • Jewelers have the expertise and tools to restore your silver jewellery to its original brilliance.


Silver jewellery, has timeless appeal, and deserves proper care and attention to ensure it remains radiant for years to come. By adopting simple yet effective cleaning and storage practices, you can preserve the beauty and sentimental value of your silver pieces for a lifetime.

Embrace the elegance of silver jewellery and let it shine brightly, reflecting the enduring allure of this precious metal.

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