My nose stud and earring designs are made out of solid, nickel-free Argentium® silver, which is a sterling silver alloy (a combination of silver and copper) that has a touch of germanium to lend the alloy resistance to tarnish. However, all silver jewelry will tarnish, even tarnish-resistance alloys, such as Argentium®.
Silver nose studs and earrings must be taken out periodically and cleaned, they are not intended for 24/7 wear without cleaning. You should never wear silver in a piercing that is not fully healed.
When it tarnishes, the metal will progress from a yellow-ish color, to brown, and eventually a dull black. Sulphur in your body and your environment is what causes this discoloration. This can happen very quickly depending on your individual body chemistry (especially if you eat a lot of sulfur-rich foods), the location that you live, if your jewelry is worn in a moist location (such as the nose) and how you store the jewelry when it is not in use.
It is much easier to keep your silver nose stud or earring nice looking by periodically polishing it and storing it properly, rather than trying to make it shiny after the silver has already darkened!
Here are my top tips for keeping your stud looking nice:
- Take your stud out often and polish it before it has a chance to begin tarnishing. Use a soft toothbrush and a mild soap to clean the post of the nose stud or earring before you put it away after wearing it.
- If your jewelry has intentionally blackened areas, do not vigorously scrub the part of the design where the black details are because you will remove them – just use a polishing pad or a polishing cloth on the raised silver areas.
- If you shower or wash your face with your stud in, always remember to completely dry the jewelry after finishing. I don’t recommend doing this, though! Dropping the nose stud down a sink or shower drain is one of the most common ways that people lose their nose jewelry.
- Store your jewelry in an airtight bag with an anti-tarnish tab when not in use. The anti-tarnish tabs that I include in my packaging are good for approximately 6 months and will start to change color when they need to be replaced.
- Do NOT wear your silver jewelry in the pool. Exposure to chlorine has the potential to blacken the silver in a way that can only be removed with sanding and a polishing wheel – it is not something that you will be able to remedy at home unless you have jewelry making tools yourself.
If your jewelry has already darkened, below are three methods you can use to clean your silver nose stud so that it looks just as shiny as the day you got it:
METHOD #1: USE A LIQUID SILVER CLEANER
Using a silver cleaning dip is the fastest way to remove tarnish from nose studs and earrings. However, you have to be careful if this is the method you choose to use because silver dips have the potential to damage your jewelry if you leave it submerged for too long at a time.
DIP THE POST IN THE CLEANER
Use a pair of tongs or tweezers to carefully lower your stud into the cleaning solution. Do not submerge the design part of the stud (if there are blackened details) or any stones, only the post of the stud. This is important because the silver cleaner will remove the dark finish that I intentionally put on some designs to highlight the details, and it can also cause damage to some stones. You only need to keep the stud in the solution for 15-30 seconds.
RINSE & SCRUB WITH A TOOTHBRUSH
Once you take the stud out of the solution, rinse it off under water while scrubbing lightly with a toothbrush. Once the stud looks silver in color again, wash it off thoroughly with soapy water to remove any residual cleaner left behind. Don’t forget to dry it well!
BUFF WITH A SOFT CLOTH
After the stud has been washed with soap and dried well, use a soft cloth to buff it. This step will make it just as shiny as when you got it. I use a small microfiber cloth that I got for cleaning my eyeglasses.
METHOD #2: USE A SILVER CLEANING PASTE
I prefer using Herman’s Silver Polish over a liquid dip because it’s non-toxic and it cleans my jewelry gently. The liquid cleaners can actually damage your jewelry over time. You can purchase Herman’s Silver Polish online, and the jar goes a long way when you’re only using it for tiny nose studs and earrings! This silver cleaning paste will work well for all nose stud bends (screw, L-bend, and bone) and for regular stud earrings with a straight post.
APPLY POLISH TO A TOOTHBRUSH
Although the directions on the container say to use a sponge or a cotton ball, I use a soft toothbrush when I’m cleaning nose studs because the recommended options are difficult to use on screws – you definitely could use them on an L-bend or a straight post, though. You may be able to use a Q-tip.
SCRUB THE POST OF THE STUD
Gently use the toothbrush to scrub the post of the stud in circular motions. Again, don’t apply the silver polish to the top of the design or the stone. Once the post is silver in color again, rinse the silver polish off. Then, wash your stud with soap and water thoroughly to remove any residual polish. After you’ve dried your stud off, I highly recommend using a soft cloth to buff it to make it look shiny.
METHOD #3: USE A POLISHING PAD OR CLOTH
When you buy silver jewelry from me, your package includes a small polishing pad to get you started! It’s the small white square in the box. Once the entire pad has turned black, you can buy yourself a full-sized polishing cloth intended for sterling silver. Using a silver polishing pad or cloth is ideal for cleaning tarnish off of the face of the design and from around the stones. However, it is not the easiest way to clean a nose screw. You can use it for cleaning an L-bend or a straight post, such as a nose bone or an earring stud.
CLEAN THE POST OF THE STUD
Fold your polishing pad over the post to get the most contact with the metal and use firm pulling strokes to remove the tarnish if you’re cleaning a stud with a straight post. If you’re cleaning an L-bend, you will need to use short horizontal strokes with one side of the pad to clean all angles of the post.
CLEAN THE DESIGN OR BEZEL
If the design, or the bezel around your stone, has started to dull or blacken a polishing pad is the best way to make it look new again! It won’t remove the dark details in the recesses of the design like a dip or a paste will. I usually try to avoid running it over the actual stone, but so far, I haven’t ruined any stones by accidentally using it on them either.
WASH & DRY YOUR STUD
Once you’re finished using the polishing pad or cloth on your jewelry wash it off with soapy water and thoroughly dry it before putting it away. As you clean your nose stud you will notice the polishing pad (or cloth) turning black. This is completely normal! Don’t throw the pad away until the entire thing is black on both sides. If you’re using a full-sized polishing cloth, don’t put it in the washer! Just keep using it until the whole cloth is black.
Once you’re finished using a polishing pad on the top part of the design, you may find that the metal actually looks too shiny and there isn’t enough contrast between the dark recesses and the silver areas. No worries, though – that’s really easy to fix! Just brush the face of the design horizontally with a piece of 1500 or 2000 grit sand paper until you’ve achieved the desired finish. I purposely give most of my jewelry pieces a brushed finish because it won’t look as dirty or scuffed as quickly as shiny silver will, and it helps the black details stand out better. Just make sure you aren’t taking sand paper to the post of your stud!
Common Misconceptions about Wearing Silver
Silver isn’t inherently a bad metal for fully healed piercings, nor does the discoloration that it gets from tarnish make it “fake”. However, it does require some extra care on your part if you want to wear it in a nose piercing or as earrings.
Because silver jewelry tarnishes, it is not intended for 24/7 wear – you will have to periodically remove it for polishing so that it remains shiny. It should not be worn in unhealed piercings because the tarnish has the potential to get embedded in the healing tissue and cause what is known as a “tarnish tattoo” (it looks like a dark ring around the piercing hole).
Myth #1: Silver body jewelry will dissolve in a piercing.
Silver does not dissolve in a piercing. However, it will tarnish, which means it reacts with the sulphur in your body and the air around you which eventually turns the surface of the silver a dull black or dark brown color over time. A humid environment, like the nose, can speed up this reaction between the silver and the sulphur in the air. Additionally, if you eat a lot of sulphur-rich foods you may notice that your silver jewelry darkens very quickly. You can easily clean tarnished silver by using one of the methods shown above. Or, simply stop it from happening in the first place by being diligent about removing your jewelry often and cleaning it using soapy water and a soft toothbrush to prevent the layer of silver sulfide (the “tarnish) from forming.
Myth #2: Silver body jewelry will always cause an allergic reaction.
Sterling silver will only cause an allergic reaction if you are allergic to one of the metals in the alloy. Allowing tarnish to remain on your jewelry has the potential to cause irritation in some people. As long as you are keeping your silver jewelry clean and free of tarnish, then you most likely won’t have a problem. If you do, alternative white metals that you can try include platinum, palladium, and palladium-white gold.
Myth #3: All sterling silver contains nickel and is low quality.
This is a blanket statement I often see tossed around and most of the time it’s completely untrue. All of the sterling silver alloys that I have come across in the United States from major jewelry supply sources have been nickel-free. For example, the sterling silver alloy that I use for the jewelry that I make is a combination of pure silver, copper, and germanium. If you’re in doubt, ask the person making the jewelry what is in the alloy they use.
Final Thoughts on Keeping Silver Studs Clean
Sterling silver can be an affordable option to wear as nose studs and as earrings, especially the modern nickel-free, tarnish-resistant alloys. However, it’s important to remember that all silver tarnishes, and should only be worn in fully healed piercings. It will take regular maintenance to keep your silver jewelry free from tarnish. If you would rather have jewelry that you can put in and forget for long periods of time, then you should choose a metal that does not tarnish, such as high-karat gold, platinum, niobium, or titanium.