Charm bracelets are currently enjoying an almost unprecedented renaissance. It’s difficult to walk through a shopping centre without encountering entire shops dedicated to these tiny, beautiful little objects.
But buying a silver
Patina When it comes to silverware maintenance, the ideal is a gleaming finish known as a patina. This finish is attained through constant and thorough polishing. The tiny fibres on the surface of a cloth will, over time, make microscopic abrasions on the surface of the silver. Over time, these abrasions accumulate to form the shining patina which makes silver so beautiful.
This is just as true of silver charm bracelets as it is of crockery and cutlery. However, wearable silver has one important advantage over other forms of silver – as silver jewellery is worn, it rubs constantly against the skin and clothing to which it is attached. This friction over time leads to the same effect as constant brushing. For this reason, one of the best things you can do to protect your silver handmade jewellery and ensure that it remains in the best possible condition, is to wear it constantly.
When silver is left exposed to the air, it is vulnerable to developing a dark film known as a tarnish. This tarnish cannot easily be removed; doing so requires the use of abrasive chemicals which will utterly ruin any patina, and, in the case of silver-plated items, might ruin the silver entirely.
Tarnish develops as the surface of silver reacts with the hydrogen-sulphide present in the air. This process will occur all the faster if there are large concentrations of the substance in the air, or if the air is humid.
The tarnishing process might seem similar to the oxidisation process which causes iron to rust. While there are chemical similarities between the two processes, there is one crucial difference. While an old railway track might rust until there is nothing left of it but red-brown dust, silver will not.
When tarnish forms on the surface of an item of silverware, it insulates the silver beneath against contact with airborne hydrogen sulphide. This means that the level of tarnishing will stabalise and further damage will be prevented. Unfortunately, by this point it might be too late!
Storing silver jewelry
When we store silver jewelry, we should ideally reduce its contact with moisture. For this reason, silver jewelry should not be stored in bathrooms, kitchens, or any other place where high levels of humidity might occur. Similarly, we should protect our jewelry against severe fluctuations in temperature – which means keeping it out of sunlight, and away from radiators and other such heat sources. Velvet-lined boxes are ideal – they cushion the silver against abrasion, and reduce exposure to air.
Substances to avoid.
When it comes to caring for your silver charm bracelet, there are a few substances which should be avoided. The chemicals contained in a number of everyday products are corrosive to silver, and so should be avoided. These include perfumes and sun cream. If you’re applying these products to your skin, then do so before you put your jewelry on. This will allow them to be absorbed into your skin, and therefore not be present on the surface of the silver in any significant quantity.
Chlorine is a harsh chemical which, as well as being an irritant to your eyes, can be hugely damaging to your silver – especially in cases of repeated exposure. For this reason, you should leave your charm bracelet in your locker whenever you go swimming.
The oil present on your skin can also have a detrimental effect on your silver jewelry – though this effect is counteracted by the gentle friction that comes with wearing jewelry. When it comes to eating while wearing silver jewelry, take care – particularly if you’re consuming highly abrasive foodstuffs like vinegar, citrus fruits and wine. If you should happen to get any such substance on your silver bracelet, then don’t despair – but make sure that you clean it in good time, before any stain has a chance to become entrenched.