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Tarnish - What is it and what causes it?

Storing your silver in the open air for extended periods can cause tarnish. We see this firstly as golden tones on your pieces and then very quickly turning to black. This is a normal process which is accelerated by oxidation, moisture, natural light, perfume, beauty products and sweat. By following some easy steps below, your pieces can be maintained in the same condition as when you first purchased them.


After wearing your pieces, just a quick wipe over with a damp cloth followed by a gentle polish with a silver polish cloth will help to remove any foreign agents from forming tarnish. Place your pieces in storage using the cloth, NO FINGERS! Also, make sure your pieces are dry.


Tarnish in deep crevices can enhance the look of your pieces. However if you want to remove this, using a very soft brush like a children’s toothbrush or a mushroom brush along with the cleansers is quite effective. Do not get the cleansers on the gemstones. When you are not wearing your pieces, we recommend an airtight bag. Zip lock bags are excellent for this (be sure they do not contain sulphur) and do not use polyvinyl plastic bags.


Light cleaning

Rub in a lengthwise motion, never clean in a circular motion as this may cause scratches. Silver cloths or a very soft cotton cloth is excellent for this. If need be, a gentle wash in warm water with a phosphate free detergent ensuring your pieces are dry before storage. Do not use a polishing cloth on your gemstones.


Medium cleaning

If your pieces have been affected by tarnish, there are several silver pastes and dips on the market. We recommend you always follow the instructions provided and ensure your pieces are rinsed, dried and polished thoroughly before storage.

Silver Pastes such as Brasso are easy and effective products to use. Apply to the silver areas (avoiding gemstones), let it dry and then polish clean with a soft cotton cloth. You may need to rinse it with cool water
to help remove all the cleanser. As this is a chemical, ventilation is recommended.


A Silver Dipping Bath can also be very effective. 5 items are needed. Bi-carbonate of soda, salt, warm water, aluminium foil and a plastic container (must be plastic not metal and flat bottomed). Firstly, depending on the size of your container, place a piece of foil (shiny side up) on the bottom of the container. Add one tablespoon of salt and one tablespoon of bi-carb and pour on hot water to dissolve. When fully dissolved, add cool water to bring the temperature to a warm bath. Add your pieces to this ensuring contact with the aluminium foil and fully immersed in the water. A minor chemical reaction will begin (make sure there is adequate ventilation) and the tarnish will start to fade. This may take up to an hour. Wash under warm water to remove any residue from the bath and dry with your polishing cloth. This is excellent for your brushed Plata Bonita pieces but not recommended for pieces with semi precious stones.


Reputable jewellery stores will also stock silver dips. As always, ensure you follow manufacturers directions.


Ultrasonic cleaners can also be used as long as your piece does not have any semi-precious gemstones. These will likely crumble away or may even turn black in the cleaner.

The 5 Essentials

In a nutshell, everything changes with time, use and wear. There are several ways to prolong the life of your Plata Bonita Pieces.

  1. Keep them clean. Prevention is better than a cure. Tarnish damages silver. It’s easier to remove tarnish and soil when it is minimal. By allowing your jewellery to turn black with tarnish, you may not be able to restore it to its natural sheen. So, it is best to care for it immediately to keep tarnish minimal. Even better, wear it! This helps keep tarnish down.

  2. Always remove your jewellery before using products that contain bleach, ammonia, alcohol, acetone
    (as in nail polish remover) and turpentine. Some of these can cause a breakdown in the metal alloys leaving the jewellery unrepairable, dull and can even pit the surface of your gemstones.


  3. Clean before storing and store in the proper manner. Just remember, your pieces are scratch resistant
    not scratch proof. Take care that your jewellery is not rubbing on other pieces in your collection. Loose in draws or an overcrowded jewellery box is not the ideal environment. Avoid storing your Plata Bonita jewellery directly on wood surfaces as wood usually contains acids that can mar the finish. Do not place
    in a card board box or on paper as they have sulphur producing compounds that increase the rate of oxidation. When stored correctly, minimal cleaning is required making your Plata Bonita Silver the first choice when accessorising your outfits.


  4. Keep tarnish to a minimum by cleaning before pieces get overly tarnished. When your jewellery needs
    to be cleaned, follow the recommendations above.


  5.  Check for loose stones or parts and have them repaired right away so as to not lose any. With normal wear and tear, stones may loosen. Generally you can do this yourself. If in doubt, consult a local jeweller
    to tighten your pieces. This should be relatively inexpensive.

We at Plata Bonita sincerely hope you have many years of enjoyment wearing your uniquely styled pieces.

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