Has this ever happened to you? You buy a beautiful piece of sterling silver jewelry, wear it a bunch then one day you lose it or completely forget about it. Once you do end up rediscovering it, you noticed its turned black! AH! Not to worry, there are plenty of ways to get your jewelry back to new.
The first thing you'll want to determine is that it is, in fact, sterling silver. One of the best ways to do this is to look for a stamp on the back or the inside of the ring shank saying "925" or "sterling". A piece may still be sterling even if it doesn't have a stamp, so the best way to determine if it'll polish up is to do a spot test in an inconspicuous area.
Once it is determined it is sterling silver, its time to figure out the best way to polish it back up! If it used to be bright and shiny, and doesn't have soft stones like opal, turquoise, you can usually just dip it in a tarnish remover like Tarn-X. I can't stress enough that this is NOT for every piece.
If your silver jewelry has a lot of components or texture, where it was antiqued to bring out the details, you won't want to dip the piece. First of all, the chemical will damage the stone, and second, dipping the piece will remove all the oxidation, even in the nooks and crannies where you want it to stay dark. Most jewelers like myself, add this oxidation to the piece on purpose to create depth.If you dip rings or necklaces that have intentionally included a dark patina it will ruin the look. In this case, you'll want to use a polishing compound-infused cloth.
I have these cloths available for purchase on my website. See link below
With these cloths you can buff the high points back up to a bright finish, but the details will remain dark, preserving the high contrast finish. This is the safest method if you're concerned about damaging your jewelry.
With these simple steps, you can restore your silver jewelry to a gorgeous shine, but the best way to keep your jewelry looking great is to wear it often, and when you're not wearing it, keep it in an airtight box or bag. I also recommend keeping your jewelry in places where it will not become hot. I have received many questions from customers who live in hotter climates and noticed their pieces oxidizing. Sterling silver tarnishes, especially in hot, humid weather. It contains 7.5% copper by weight, which reacts with common air pollutants, darkening the surface of the metal.
When you do notice oxidation or tarnishing using a quick polishing cloth will get it back to its original shiny state.