Storing and handling silver
As silver tarnishes easily, it is advisable to store it as much as possible in closed bags, e.g. zip pouches. Make sure your silver is clean and completely dry before you store it.
Know your objects
In order to properly care for your jewellery, familiarize yourself with the properties of each individual material component. Storage conditions are often based on the weakest component, but make sure that other materials are fit for those conditions too. This is always a matter of tailor-made solutions, dependant on both the components in your collection and the conditions of your storage. For example, a collection kept in an older, 'leaky' building in a hot and humid climate will need different care then a collection in a newer building in a moderate climate.
It is advisable to check the condition of your silver items regularly (e.g. on a yearly basis). Inspect them closely for verdigris (the green corrosion): this will seriously affect your jewellery and can spread to other items. This can be cleaned by soaking the piece in white vinegar for about 15 minutes, if it is made of metal. Wipe with a cloth and if necessary, with a soft toothbrush. If your piece consists of silver plated metal or sterling silver, and/or is embellished with other materials, do not attempt to remove the verdigris at home, as vinegar can damage silver, pearls and other components. Bring it to a professional cleaner instead.
An often-used method for regular cleaning is the baking soda method:
- line a bowl with aluminum foil, shiny side up
- add a couple of tablespoons baking soda
- add some salt
- add boiling water
- when the water calmes down after bubbling, submerge your silver items and let soak. Do not use this method on items that are composed of other materials as well: only silver items.
After a few minutes, you will see your silver cleaning up. When the silver is tarnished heavily, a foul odour may occur. Soak for as long as needed (use barbecue tongs to turn over the jewellery), rinse under lukewarm water, wipe dry with a cloth and polish with a polishing cloth. Make sure the silver is completely dry before you store it!