Many of our turquoise jewelry are made by native American Indians. As we mentioned in Why the Value of Turquoise is Skyrocketing, Navajo and other native American Indian people in the Southwest have been perfecting their unique jewelry styles and techniques ever since they learned silversmithing from the Spanish. They passed down this artistic tradition from generation to generation, and till this day, have been known worldwide for their distinct jewelry style -- the combination of turquoise and silver, which signifies the fusion of the sacred and the secular. The Southwest Indian artists take pride in their work so much that the quality of materials used in each piece becomes one way of telling the jewelry’s authenticity! That means, if you have one of our turquoise jewelry, it will be authentic turquoise and sterling silver that you are dealing with.
While sterling silver turquoise jewelry reflects a contradictory beauty of luster and elegance, one can not neglect a sad and annoying fact: silver tarnishes easily. When silver comes into contact with oxygen or certain environmental pollutants such as sulfur, it chemically reacts with them and as a result appear dull or discolored. Heart-breaking? Don’t worry, we are here to help.
Instead of diving directly into “curing” tarnish, we think it makes more sense to try to prevent tarnish from happening in the first place.
Wear with Care
Wear your jewelry often. The oils in your skin is your jewelry’s best friend and can keep it healthy and alive.
Take your jewelry off when doing household chores or before you go swimming and sunbathing. Any substances that contain sulfur can cause silver to corrode and tarnish, including household chemicals, sweat, rubber and latex, chlorinated water, wool, and food items like Mayonnaise, mustard, eggs, and onions. Direct sunlight tarnishes silver as well.
Keep your jewelry away from lotions, creams, cosmetics, perfumes, hair spray, and other beauty products as they can accelerate tarnishing. Now you know why it seems so natural that jewelry is always the finishing touch for a woman when dressing up.
Air and moisture are enemies of silver. Store your jewelry in sealable plastic bags in cool, dark, and dry places. Push out as much air as possible before closing the seal. Keep some chalks, camphors, activated charcoals, or silica gel packs to the storage area to help minimize moisture. Make sure you don’t put multiple pieces in the same bag -- they can scratch each other.
Even if you have worn or stored your silver jewelry perfectly, they can still get tarnished over time or through accidents. That’s not the end of the world. There are still ways to bring them back to life.
If the tarnishing of your jewelry is not too severe, you can simply polish them using a special silver cloth, a lint-free flannel, microfiber, or other soft non-abrasive cloth. This is also THE way to go when you are dealing with oxidized silver.
Many of our turquoise jewelry are made of oxidized silver, meaning parts of the jewelry, typically small details, are intentionally darkened and tarnished by silversmiths so that they appear three-dimensional and stand out more. Excessive polishing can damage this detailing. So when polishing, make sure to use long back-and-forth motions instead of rubbing in circles to prevent magnifying any existing scratches. Frequently change to a new section of your cleaning cloth to avoid placing tarnish back on the silver. Use a Q-tip to get into small areas.
When simple polishing is not enough to remove tarnish, try these easily accessible, environmentally-friendly silver cleaners:
- Soap and water: Mix some mild, phosphate-free, and ammonia-free dishwashing soap with warm water and stir well. This should be your first go-to method for more severe tarnish.
- Ketchup: Put a small amount on a cloth and rub gently over the tarnished areas. If that does not work, let the ketchup sit for 15 minutes before you wipe it clean.
- Baking soda paste: Mix some baking soda with just enough water to make a paste. Apply a pea-size amount using a clean cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush to the silver and polish.
- Lemon juice and olive oil: Whisk together 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/2 cup lemon juice in a bowl. Dip a cleaning cloth into the mixture, wring out the excess and polish your jewelry.
Remember to thoroughly rinse your jewelry with running water or preferably a clean, damp cloth after using any cleaner, in case it sticks in small cracks and harden. Dry with a clean cloth afterwards.
DO NOT EVER soak your turquoise jewelry in any cleaning solutions, even homemade ones. Not only will it harm the oxidized details of the sterling silver, it will also cause serious damage to the soft turquoise stone.
Treat your sterling silver turquoise jewelry with care and it will remain a shiny star among your other collectibles for as long as you’d like it to.