Sterling silver is one of the most popular metals used in jewellery today. With its attractive shine, elegant styling, durability, and high quality, it’s no wonder so many of us love wearing sterling silver rings, necklaces, earrings, and more. But we do have to take proper care of our cherished sterling pieces. An important question many jewellery wearers ask is: can you shower with sterling silver jewellery?
The short answer is yes, you can safely wear sterling silver jewellery while showering. The metal itself is not harmed by exposure to water. However, there are some risks to be aware of, and steps you can take to keep your jewellery looking its best.
In this article, I’ll go over the factors to consider when showering with sterling silver, potential risks to the metal and your jewellery, and the proper way to clean and polish silver after exposure to water. Follow these tips, and your beloved sterling pieces can maintain their beauty and shine.
Is Water Exposure Harmful to Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver contains 92.5% pure silver blended with copper to increase its strength and durability. This high-quality metal is resistant to corrosion and tarnishing. So simply coming into contact with water when you bathe or shower will not damage the material itself.
However, prolonged exposure to water can cause oxidation and tarnishing of the silver’s surface. The remaining 7.5% copper alloy in sterling can react with substances in water leading to dull, darkened spots on your jewellery.
While this tarnishing does not damage the integrity of the metal, it does make our jewellery lose its lustrous shine. Let’s look at the factors that promote tarnishing during water exposure.
Risk Factors When Showering with Silver Jewellery
There are a few elements commonly found in water that will accelerate the tarnishing process on your sterling silver. Being aware of these risks allows you to take steps to minimize exposure.
Chlorine and Chemicals
The chlorine added to tap water to make it safe for drinking and bathing can react with silver and cause tarnishing. The higher the concentration of chlorine, the more it will react with the copper in sterling and oxidize the surface.
Shower cleaning products like gels and soaps also contain chemicals that may promote tarnishing. The ingredients in your shampoo and conditioner can also speed up darkening with prolonged contact on your jewellery in the shower.
Hard Water and Mineral Content
Hard water contains a high concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals bind with the silver and leave behind oxidation and spotting. The higher the mineral content of your tap water, the more potential damage to your silver.
Salts and other minerals present in ocean water can also lead to tarnishing if you swim in a pool or the sea with sterling silver on. Chlorine levels in pools contribute to this effect as well.
Showering with jewellery on also raises the risk of accidentally dropping and losing a ring, earring, or other piece of jewellery as you wash. Sterlings delicate chains and settings can easily come loose or slip off.
Many a cherished ring has washed down the drain when people did not remove them before bathing. So accidental loss of special jewellery is a real risk.
Best Practices for Showering with Silver Jewellery
To preserve the beauty of your sterling silver while still wearing it in the shower, follow these basic tips:
- Avoid extended exposure to shampoos, conditioners, and shower gels by rinsing thoroughly after use. And try to not let these products sit directly on top of jewellery.
- When possible, take off sterling silver rings, bracelets, and earrings and leave them in a safe place rather than wear them in the bath or shower. This prevents loss and minimizes tarnish risks.
- For precious jewellery you do not want to remove, inspect the clasps and settings first to ensure they are secure so nothing can slip off.
- After showering or swimming, gently dry off silver jewellery with a soft polishing cloth to prevent water spotting.
- Clean and polish your sterling pieces using a specially formulated silver cleaner or anti-tarnish cloth. Do this periodically to restore shine and remove any oxidation from water exposure.
By being cautious about chemical and mineral exposure, removing pieces when sensible, and properly caring for your jewellery after, you can safely keep enjoying your sterling silver during a refreshing shower or bath.
How to Clean and Polish Tarnished Sterling Silver
If you do notice dark oxidation spots, clouding, or haziness on your sterling silver, do not worry. Tarnish on silver is easy to remove and polish away. Promptly restoring the shine keeps the tarnish from becoming too stubborn to remove.
Here are effective methods and products for cleaning tarnished silver jewellery:
Silver Polishing Cloth
These soft cloths contain an anti-tarnish compound that can remove oxidation and restore light reflection. Gently rub the tarnished areas to polish away dullness and dark spots. Over time, the cloth may turn grey as it absorbs the tarnish.
Silver Dip Solutions
Liquid silver dips work quickly to dissolve tarnish and bring back the metal’s reflective brightness. Dip the sterling into the solution for 1 to 3 minutes. Rinse and buff dry. Use care when dipping as these chemical solutions may damage some gemstones or enamel work.
Silver Polish Paste
Polish pastes contain a mild abrasive that buffs away dull oxidation. Apply a small amount to a soft cloth. Rub gently in the direction of the grain on heavily tarnished areas and rinse. Avoid scrubbing too vigorously on delicate jewellery.
For a deep clean, an ultrasonic cleaner uses sound waves to create gentle cavitation that lifts dirt and tarnish from all crevices and detailing. Allow jewellery to soak for just a few minutes and then rinse clean. Easy restoration for heavily tarnished items.
By periodically cleaning and polishing your sterling silver jewellery, you can easily keep it looking like new for many years to come. Be sure to properly care for the gems and other detailing as well. Proper maintenance lets you enjoy your cherished pieces for a lifetime.
So in summary, sterling silver can absolutely be worn in the shower or bath as the metal itself is water-safe. But take sensible precautions against chemical exposure, accidental loss, and routinely cleaning off any light tarnishing. Follow these tips, and your beloved jewellery will maintain its luxurious brilliance during all your bathing and cleaning routines. Those beautiful sterling rings, necklaces, and earrings will shine on.