Sterling, at over 92% silver, is quite pure. Perhaps this metal's most remarkable attribute is the way it ages. Silver patinas so beautifully that designers often exaggerate that quality, incorporating recesses protected from the natural polishing of everyday wear, and even pre-oxidizing the surface.
Tarnishing of Sterling Silver Jewelry
Sterling silver is a copper-silver alloy and is somewhat softer than most gold alloys. Therefore, it is more likely to be abraded to black dust by movement between the jewelry and the skin or clothing. A few people, especially with moist skin, may find that the sterling silver stains their skin green due to the copper component of the silver alloy. When this occurs they should polish their jewelry frequently and use an absorbent, non-abrasive powder on moist skin areas that are exposed to the jewelry.
Other Problems with Sterling Silver and Solutions
Soaps, detergent, wax, polish, and cosmetic creams may build up under a ring causing a type of dermatitis. To prevent this, they should remove all rings before using soap or detergent, and clean the rings frequently.
A very effective way to properly clean Sterling Silver jewelry.
Clean with dish washing soap and a soft toothbrush. This will degrease and remove any dirt left on the item.
Rinse and dry.
Use a silver cleaner - a liquid or paste form.
Rinse and dry.
Hand polish with a broadcloth.
Some sterling silver items have either been chrome plated or rhodium plated. These require special care, do not use any cleaners, only use a broadcloth. True sterling silver jewelry should always be stamped 925. Pure silver will be stamped 999. Some items may look like silver but may only be silver plated. When cleaning jewelry at home a good rule is "if in doubt, don't." You should bring the jewelry in question to a qualified jeweler and let them advise you of the correct way to clean your piece.