Let’s be honest ladies, we are all a bit clumsy with our hands. That means that our sterling silver bracelet endures the occasional bump and grazing.

Silver is a durable material when taken care of properly but it is not immune to our unintentional damaging behavior. A sterling silver bracelet is a classic piece of jewelry that needs the occasional TLC.

We are here for you, girl and so is your silver jewelry. Fortunately, silver jewelry is not high maintenance and only needs proper storing, a little protection from chemicals and a polish. Here we break down all you should know about sterling silver jewelry. Keep your sterling silver bracelet bright, shining and smooth with these care tips and learn how to clean different types of bracelets.

What Is Sterling Silver?

A piece of sterling silver jewelry consists of a high percentage of silver, usually 92.5% or 95% silver. The remaining 7.5% or 5% is a different type of metal that makes the alloy stronger.

Silver on its own is too soft a metal for durable jewelry. That is why jewelry designers add a strengthening metal, usually copper or zinc. Just that little percentage of copper or zinc makes the jewelry piece more resistant to scratches and less malleable. The final result is a beautiful shiny cool color that lasts longer. If you are looking for the highest quality silver bracelet then a sterling silver bracelet is what you are looking for.

Tarnished vs Oxidized Sterling Silver

Jewelry designers sometimes create darker spots on a sterling silver bracelet. Purposefully including dark spots on a silver jewelry piece is called oxidizing.

Oxidizing silver is a design choice. The jewelry designer highlights details on the jewelry piece through oxidizing it but still keeps the rest of the silver smooth and shiny. The dark color against the bright silver creates texture and depth in the sterling silver bracelet.

Do not confuse oxidized sterling silver with tarnished sterling silver. Tarnishing on a silver jewelry piece sometimes also appears as dark spots. However, a more common effect of tarnishing is the silver taking on a dull appearance.

The difference between oxidizing silver and tarnish on silver is that oxidizing silver serves a design purpose while tarnish is what happens when you don’t take care of your silver jewelry.

So, when you spot a beautiful piece of sterling silver jewelry in the store with dark design details, it is not tarnish. The difference is quite clear. If the darker elements in the design eye as dirty instead of enhancing the design, then it is tarnish. If the darker elements bring out the shine and smaller details then it is purposeful oxidization.

How to Prevent Tarnish on Your Sterling Silver Bracelet

Lucky for you, taking care of a sterling silver bracelet is not rocket science. All your sterling silver bracelet wants from you is a little protection and occasional TLC.

Oxygen and sulfur are the bad guys that cause tarnish on silver. Silver reacts when it comes into contact with either of these elements. So, the obvious prevention method is keeping your sterling silver bracelet away from oxygen and sulfur.

Now, oxygen is not something you can avoid when wearing a sterling silver jewelry piece. For obvs reasons. You can however, store the sterling silver bracelet in an air-sealed place. This is why experts recommend keeping your silver jewelry pieces inside an airtight plastic bag.

Another tarnish prevention trick is storing your silver jewelry in a dry place. Moisture is also a no-no when it comes to keeping silver shiny. So, keep your silver jewelry in a dry room. You can add a silica bag to your jewelry box if you don’t keep the pieces in an airtight bag. Also, unclasping bracelets and laying it out flat prevents moisture from building up.

Make Your Sterling Silver Bracelet Shine

Now that you know who the bad guys are, it is time we tell you who the good guy is. You are the sterling silver superhero!

Wearing your sterling silver bracelet actually keeps its shine for longer. This is because the natural oils on your skin also rub off on the bracelet. These oils function as a natural protective layer. However, it is only your own natural oil that sterling silver loves. Creams, lotions, scented oils or sprays are not sterling silver’s friend. They do not act as a protective layer on a sterling silver bracelet and are actually damaging to it.

Other chemicals that your sterling silver bracelet does not like are detergents, chlorine, makeup products and sorry to say it, your sweat. So please please, please, take of your sterling silver bracelet during household cleaning, swimming and working out. Also, always put your jewelry on after your makeup routine so that there is minimal contact with chemicals.

In case your sterling silver bracelet gets tarnished, don’t despair. You can simply remove the tarnish with a silver polishing cloth. Just rub your sterling silver bracelet gently when attempting to remove the tarnish. However, if the tarnish layer is too thick, instead of attempting to remove it by yourself, take your sterling silver bracelet to the jeweler’s. After a professional polishing, your sterling silver bracelet will look perfect.

If you want to find out more about taking care of different metals and jewelry pieces, check out our related articles. To view Ana Luisa’s fabulous sterling silver jewelry collections, visit our online jewelry shop.

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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.