Materials and Care

Argentium Sterling Silver: Ordinary sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% pure silver (Ag) and 7.5% copper (Cu). The silver I use, however, is a newly developed alloy where a small amount of the element, germanium (Ge), is substituted for the copper. This small change makes the sterling silver highly resistant to tarnish, so each piece should remain bright for a longer period of time and with little polishing necessary. For a more complete look at this new silver, visit the Argentium Silver website.

Gold: Gold-fill is the most affordable way to have durable gold jewelry. A small core of another metal, usually jewelers brass, is surrounded by a federally mandated minimum thickness of the karat gold (usually 12 or 14 kt.). This layer of gold is heat and pressure bonded to the core and will not wear off under normal use. Gold-fill should not be confused with gold-plate, which is a coating of gold only a few microns thick that tends to flake away easily. The gold-fill that I use is 14kt, 1/20th by weight, and is nickel-free.

Jewelry Care

The first step to take if you want your jewelry to continue to sparkle is to clean it regularly. Natural body oil and lotions can take a toll, so periodically scrub your piece with a good dish soap and an old toothbrush. Blot dry with paper towels to prevent water spots. To keep your silver and gold jewelry bright, store in a closed, dry space. Any piece can also be buffed with a commercial polishing cloth to restore its shine.

To brighten your jewelry, or to remove tarnish, use the photos and instructions below. This is a simple “household recipe” which does not rely on harsh, toxic “dips.”

1. This sterling silver (not Argentium) is distinctly tarnished! 2. These are the main ingredients needed to remove the tarnish: salt and washing soda (sodium carbonate). You will also need simple aluminum foil.
3. Line a glass or ceramic dish with foil and place the silver jewelry in the dish, making sure that the silver is in contact with the foil. 4. Sprinkle a mixture of equal parts salt and washing soda on the silver. About a tablespoon of each should be sufficient.
5. Adjust the foil as necessary to make sure it is fully in contact with the silver. Add hot water to fully cover the silver and foil. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes. 6. This piece has been in the solution for about an hour, which should be plenty of time for the reaction to occur. Note how grey the water appears.
7. And this is a close-up of the silver after its bath. Much improved! 8. An examination of the foil shows that the sulfer compounds that constitute tarnish on silver have been transferred to the aluminum.
9. Finally, scrub the silver with Dawn (or another brand) of dishwashing liquid and a toothbrush. Rinse and dry with a towel. NOW it is shiny! Compare this view with photos 1 and 7. 10. This is a full view of the cleaned neckpiece.