It's no secret that silver tarnishes. A lot of folks out there prefer white gold because it is not prone to tarnish, and therefore less maintenance. I feel that silver is a gorgeous metal, more pure and honest than white gold. I like that it has character and coloration as it tarnishes. It grows mature, and it can do so gracefully and beautifully if you follow a few simple rules.
1. if you are not going to wear silver jewelry frequently, store it in small ziplock bags. Tarnish is a reaction of metal and air. If your jewelry is stored in a sealed container, it will inhibit tarnish.
The only exception to this rule is pearls. I'm not talking about a tiny pearl accent, but if you have a large pearl centerpiece, or a silver pendant on a strand of pearls, these should never be kept in plastic. Pearls are organic material, and they need to breathe. They turn yellow and brittle when kept in plastic for long time.
2. Do not keep your jewelry in the bathroom when you take a shower! The moisture in the air accelerates tarnish!
3. Especially with pearls and gems, but also for silver, jewelry should be the last thing you put on in the morning. After perfume, lotion, hairspray, etc...,
4. Wear your silver jewelry often :) Silver is continually polished by rubbing against your skin and your clothes. This will help the tarnish only to develop in the recessed areas, giving the design depth and dimension. The top surface should stay bright and clean! (of course it may be a bad idea to wear your jewelry for tough labor like moving furnature, gardening, etc.., duh! )
5. Clean your jewelry occasionally. You might not notice it, but your jewelry gets gross! bits of food, skin, lotion etc. can get stuck especially behind stones in your rings. Clean that stuff! It just takes some soap and water and a soft toothbrush. Always rinse thoroughly.
For a really deep cleaning, visit your local jeweler (or me!) and ask them to clean it while you look around. Most jewelers offer cleaning as a free service, even if you didn't buy the jewelry there. They may also offer to remove tarnish by dipping the jewelry in a chemical tarnish remover. Be sure to mention whether or not you wish to have that done. You can also do this yourself. See previous article "How to rejuvinate old silver jewelry."
That's all it takes! Silver is a quality precious metal, and it will last you a lifetime if you follow these few simple steps.