Sterling silver is one of the most popular metals used for jewellery and watches. It’s incredibly versatile and simplistically beautiful.

However, because many of us have sterling silver jewellery, we also know that it can begin to appear dull or discoloured over time. Luckily, this can be reduced and avoided through cleaning and caring for the piece.

What is Oxidation?

Even though you may not have heard of oxidation, but if you have ever owned a piece made from silver, you will have seen it.Oxidation is the process in which oxygen from the air discolours the silver to a dark grey, almost black colour.

Although this is something that we want to protect our sterling silver jewellery from, there are many pieces which will have areas  of detail which have been deliberately oxidised to take advantage of this darker colour and making the detail of the piece stand out a bit more.

With this in mind, it’s worth separating those pieces with deliberate oxidised areas from those which you are wanting to thoroughly clean, as polishing and cleaning can reverse the oxidation effect.


As we discussed in our last post, there are ways to keep your jewellery and watches in great condition and protecting them from damage and wear and tear.

However, the oils from your skin can help keep your silver looking shiny and will help combat tarnish, so although you shouldn’t be wearing the piece of jewellery or your watch all day, every day, wearing it often enough will help maintain that sparkle.

Storage wise, you should aim to store any sterling silver that you may have in air tight plastic containers or bags with anti tarnish strips to keep your piece looking shiny and new. Silver is an incredibly soft metal and can be scratched easily so store jewellery in separate bags to avoid damage.

Cleaning and Polishing

To clean your sterling silver piece you will need to invest in a lint free , non abrasive cloth. Polishing works best when the tarnishing isn’t too noticeable, but it’s the best way to help combat further oxidation of the silver.

With the cloth, you should use a back and forth motion- don’t rub the metal in circles as this will highlight any scratches which may be on the metal.

Generally, polishing your sterling silver piece should be enough, but if you are still not happy with how clean it is, you can create your own homemade cleaner from ingredients that you can find from your kitchen.

Dish soap which is phosphate free and water is a great starting point to rid your piece of any build up. It is gentle enough to lift dirt and grime without damaging the silver.

If this still doesn’t remove the build up, you can make a paste from baking soda and water. This is used for more stubborn build up and can be used to get rid of grime which has built up in any etched detail.

Run under warm water when finished and enjoy the new lease of life that you have breathed back into your sterling silver piece!

Our experts at Martins of Glasgow are on hand to help you with all your watch and jewellery needs. From our restringing service to carrying out Tag Heuer watch repairs, our experts are available to keep your watches and jewellery looking great and working correctly.

For more information on our services, contact our team today by calling 0141 946 6333 and we will be delighted to help you with your enquiries.

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