Can I wear my sterling silver bracelet in a hot tub with chlorinated water?

Dear Paula,

I just placed an order for a sterling silver twist bracelet and am very excited to receive it. I was speaking to family members that own Sterling silver and they said it will turn black if I wear it in the pool or hot tub.I am thinking that my bracelet is made from better material and that I will not have this problem. Please let me know what you think about this matter.
I love the look of this bracelet and have been waiting to purchase it for quite a few years. I have had your website in my favorites and I finally made my purchase. Thank you for your time and patience. WS


Hi WS,

The bracelet you ordered is made from sterling silver. I have had one for years and it is as shiny as ever – maybe once a year I wipe it with a polishing cloth.
But I have never worn one in a shower, bath, dishwater, pool, hot tub and wouldn’t recommend it because as you would learn if you google this search phrase “sterling silver chlorine”

One effect that chlorine can have on sterling silver is discoloration or tarnish. Discoloration happens when the copper in the alloy reacts with the chlorine. The discoloration can be either a light brown or black.

Also, silver is a very good conductor of heat so wearing jewelry in a hot tub would seem to invite discomfort…….just sayin’


To Polish or Not to Polish, That is the Question……….

We sell many used and vintage pieces that have from light to heavy patina and tarnish on them. We leave the choice of whether to polish or not to the customer.

Patina is the overall uniform darkening that occurs from aging. Patina adds a richness to vintage pieces. How much patina you like is personal preference, there is no right or wrong.

Tarnish, on the other hand, is a thin dirty film that appears on silver as it oxidizes. Tarnish, in my opinion, should be remove regularly using a mild method, such as with a buffing cloth.  Each of these pieces took about one minute to fully polish with a cloth.

Here is one of my favorite contemporary Hopi Man in a Maze bracelets (by Cyrus Josytewa) before buffing. Basically a dirty bracelet !



30 seconds later - half done

30 seconds later – half done

DONE One minute of polishing

DONE One minute of polishing

Tarnish on polishing cloth

Tarnish on polishing cloth

Hubby’s favorite buckle (Stanley Gene, Navajo) has some nice patina and also has tarnish. I’m on the fence with this piece – I actually think I prefer the overall patina but he volunteered it for an example. A buckle makes contact with a lot of surfaces so even after the tarnish is removed, the buckles still has its character scratches.







Here are some more articles related to jewelry care:

Are you supposed to polish Navajo Pearls?

Cleaning Vintage Native American Jewelry

A reminder about jewelry polishing cloths


How do I clean my Navajo sterling silver and turquoise jewelry?

Hi Paula,

How do you clean the silver and turquoise Navajo bracelets and earrings?  I had been using a commercial jewelry cleaner and brushing it on, not soaking it.  I noticed one earring changed color?  Thanks, Judy

Hi Judy,

In a word – carefully !

First of all, the cardinal rule is to never allow any cleaner to come in contact with the stones or their settings (the sterling silver bezel that holds the stone in) as the stones may change color (as you’ve experienced) or the settings may loosen.

Really the very best way to keep sterling silver shiny is with regular maintenance. Buff with a silver polishing cloth after each use and before you put the jewelry on. Store in anti-tarnish boxes and/or bags. I have a number of articles on this topic here on my blog.

In the right hand column, if you choose the Category  “Care” you will get a list of all the articles on this blog related to care and storage which describe what causes tarnish in the first place and all types of solutions from simple (zip lock bag) to elaborate (anti-tarnish cloth lined boxes and drawers.)


Native American Bracelet and Cuff Watch Storage Ideas

This is my last (for a while) installment on the sterling silver storage theme.  And it will be short and sweet.

This system consists of a 17″ x 17″ x 5″ drawer lined with anti-tarnish cloth.

Leave a large flap of extra anti-tarnish cloth attached to the front of the drawer that can be folded over to use like a blankie to tuck the bracelets in.

The storage bars are moveable, they are not fixed. The are 3″ tall and 1 1/8 wide and 15″ long. If your bracelets have a 1″ gap, you will want to make the bars 7/8″ or 1″ wide or the bracelets won’t slip onto the bars.

The bracelet bars are covered in the anti-tarnish cloth. To keep the bars from rolling over, a foot is attached to the end of each bar and I put that end in the back of the drawer. The foot is made from 1 1/2″ lathe approximately 3″ long.


Native American Sterling Silver Jewelry Display Ideas from Tallbear

This from Blog Reader Tallbear who originally asked me about storage and display.

Hey Paula,
I am sending the two pics showing the display cases.

The Squash and Buckles I had purchased some anti-tarnish cloth and took it to the craft shop that was going to frame it for me.  I had the shop cover the inside back with that then mount the items on it using stick pins and frame them.  It is quite a large wall mounted display.

The two watch cuffs and the bracelet, I found a display case for baseballs at a craft store, got one for three baseballs.  cut two pieces of Styrofoam (swim noodle) and covered them with the anti-tarnish cloth and put the watch cuffs around them and the bracelet in the middle.

Hopefully the anti- tarnish cloth will keep them polished. Any way, hope this will give others some ideas.


Hi Tallbear,

Thanks so much for the ideas. Please let us know if either or both methods prevent tarnish.

This ties in nicely to the last part of my series on storage to prevent tarnish which will come by the weekend. So stay tuned.


More Sterling Silver Native American Jewelry Storage Ideas

This is a continuation to Tall Bear’s request for ideas on storage of Native American sterling silver jewelry to protect it and prevent it from tarnishing.

I previously showed you the Navajo Pearl tequila chests that hubby made.

Here is another idea. There are commercially available jewelry boxes that are lined with anti-tarnish cloth. They come in all sizes from simple ring boxes like the one I show below to full sized chests. Some have see-through lids so you can also use them as display boxes. Part of owning Native American wearable art is to be able to see it even when we aren’t wearing it !

Note that I own mostly pawn rings with patina so my photo example does not show shiny rings. However if you have new rings or want to keep rings shiny, you will have a much easier time if you use one of these boxes.

Another method that we use here in the jewelry store it to place strips of 3M anti-tarnish paper inside the bags we use to store our inventory. So you could use the strips in a variety of ways during storage to help prevent tarnish.

Anti-Tarnish Strips help keep silver tarnish-free by preventing oxidation because they absorb hydrogen sulfides from the air.

They last from a few weeks (if exposed to air) up to a year (if used in a sealed container). We used them with well-sealed zip lock bags.

For storing large pieces of jewelry, you can purchase anti-tarnish cloth by the yard and bundle up the items like you do with your silver table ware.

Watch for more of my jewelry storage tips coming soon to finish up this topic.


Navajo Cuff Bracelet – Tom Hawk

I had a silver cuff bracelet with Tom Hawk engraved inside. I looked them up by surfing for the website.
Double Carinated Navajo Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet by Tom Hawk

Double Carinated Navajo Sterling Silver Cuff Bracelet by Tom Hawk

I have this necklace that I bought at Dillards. The sales lady insisted it was silver, but after a while I noticed that the silver was rubbing off. I get a red itchy rash if it’s not real silver or gold.
What I was wondering, I like my necklace. Could anyone at Tom Hawk jewelry make the same necklace for me in silver. All of it silver. I don’t like shiny silver, I guess I like raw silver. Anyway, is it possible for this to be done?
Thanks, CF

I have emailed one other time, and I don’t know if the email got to it’s destination. I bought a silver necklace from Dillards. The sales person said it was silver and I wouldn’t have a allergic reaction. The necklace was “silver plated” NOT real silver. So, I found this problem out because the silver was rubbing off, and I’m not sure what metal it was, but I had a reaction to it. The claw clasp was this dark metal maybe nickel.,..I don’t know.
The thing is I want my necklace, it was perfect, and it’s just so frustrating. Anyway, I wanted to send the necklace to Tom Hawk jewelers to see if they could replicate the necklace in all silver. Not shiny just real silver. Can this be done? I hope so.
Hi Cindy,
Sorry for the delay in replying. I answer emails in the order they arrive as time permits.
We don’t take custom orders and 95% of the artists we deal with don’t accept custom orders.
Here are a couple of other posts that talk about why special orders aren’t an option with us.
The necklace you purchased at the department store was likely a nickel alloy under the sterling silver plating – once the sterling silver wears off – the metal underneath can cause a skin reaction. Many people are affected that way.
When someone says something  is “silver”, it usually means silver-tone (silver colored) or silver plated. If it is Sterling Silver, they usually say it is “sterling” or “sterling silver” and the piece would be stamped either Sterling or Sterling Silver or STER or 925 on the back.
Read all about silver here.
Tom Hawk makes great rings to match the cuff bracelets.