Google Pixel 2 XL smartphone Review

It may be the gadget that readers and viewers are the most excited about this year, based on how many hits I’ve been getting on this content. Google Pixel 2 has launched, and it’s got Android users and, yes, even Apple die-hards buzzing. Continue reading “Google Pixel 2 XL smartphone Review”

How to Clean Sterling Silver if yours is Turning Grey, White, Black!

There’s nothing worse then pulling a cherished piece of silver jewelry out and finding it’s turned black, grey, white or yellow.  Trying to figure out how to clean silver it  can be tough.That colour is called tarnish and it’s the bane of any silver-lover.

I love making sterling silver jewelry in my spare time. Occasionally I take on custom-made jewelry requests. But I recently had a customer write me to say a necklace I’d made for him had turned black after just a couple weeks.  He was surprised and thought something was wrong with the piece. Though it can look unsightly if not cared for properly, tarnish is a normal and natural process with sterling silver. But once tarnish or blackening is there, how can you clean silver?

What causes Tarnish?

A well-used silver polishing cloth.

A well-used silver polishing cloth.

When silver tarnishes, it’s a surface discolouration  caused by the interaction of oxygen (air) with the silver. As the British Assay Office explains it, “silver naturally interacts with oxygen and sulphur-bearing pollutants to create silver sulphide, resulting in a visible discoloration of the metal’s surface. Silver tarnishes in environments containing various sulphuric gases, even in very low concentration. The amount of tarnishing is determined by the relative humidity, ambient temperature, gas concentration, and the length of time the silver is exposed to the gases.”

With sterling silver this process is normal, natural, expected, and yes, it can occur relatively quickly.

Many things can speed tarnish; air pollution, the minerals in your water (and as such, wearing your silver jewelry in the shower can speed this process too), living or working near a chemical, electric or manufacturing plant, or even in proximity to a gas starion are all things that can cause discolouration more quickly.

Recent studies have shown tarnish develops microscopically within hours of being cleaned and exposed to air again.  You may not see it on the piece for several days or weeks, but it’s there, and will show up as a black residue on a polishing cloth.

How to clean silver

A great way to keep seldom worn jewelry clean (and silverware if you have it), is to store sterling silver in a ziplock bag with all the air squeezed or rolled out of it.  You can wrap it in a soft cloth first too.  Oxygen and thus tarnish may still seep in and can still cause blackening especially if the pieces are stores for long periods of time, but it should keep things to a minimum. Another great way to keep jewelry tarnish free?  Wear it!  Constant contact with the silver keeps tarnish from building up.

Chemicals can cause tarnish

Chemically tarnished rings. Oops!Coincidentally at the same time as this customer contacted me,  I had a friend show me some rings I’d made for her.  The shiny sterling silver had turned a deep, dark black (photo at left).  This was no tarnish effect, and she admitted she’d immersed her baubles in some household cleaner (Lysol) to spruce them up.  Instead, they’d become instantly and deeply chemically oxidized.

Now, she actually liked this look and referred to it as ‘edgy’, so she’s leaving them as they are for now.  If she did want them restored it should be a relatively simple process of buffing the chemical scarring off the surface layer, and exposing clean shiny silver beneath.

Don’t experiment with cleaning silver using household cleaners!

But this also serves as a leaning moment; only soap and water, silver polish, or a silver polishing cloth should be used to clean your silver jewelry.  Many household cleaners and chemicals can alter your precious silver.  In fact, I once had a ring turn bronze after accidentally spritzing window cleaner on it, and had other silver turn grey by getting baking soda onto it.  That too buffed out, but you’ll want to be careful with your jewelry.  Chemicals can also permanently damage certain stones like topaz, opal and more, so don’t experiment; you run the risk of really doing permanent damage.

How to Clean Silver and Remove Tarnish-> Get this Inexpensive Polishing ClothSUNSHINE MINI.JPG

If you do find some discolouration of your silver, you can remove it with a silver cloth (brand names include Sunshine Cloth, which is available inexpensively from me,  HERE or HERE). If that won’t work, stop while you’re ahead and take it to a pro for professional help.

A Note about Grocery Store Silver Cleanser

I’ve purchased cleansers from grocery stores that just don’t work.  If you’re going to get a cleanser from somewhere other than a jewelry professional, test it first on a small area.  If the cleaner doesn’t remove tarnish instantly, it’s not working.  Proper liquid silver cleaners will remove all tarnish in about 3 seconds.  Fresh new polishing cloths.If you need to soak, or scrub, stop using it, rinse your silver, and return the cleaner to where you bought it and get your money back. (Keep your receipt!)

For the jewelry ‘geeks’, the Government of Canada has written a helpful article about how to best care for your silver.  Read it here.



Have you got a horror story – or a home remedy for tarnish?  Post your comments below!


Tim Horton’s cute EH-moji keyboard fails to impress

EHmojiCoffee giant Tim Hortons recently announced that just in time for Canada Day, the company would be releasing a cute Canadian emoji keyboard.  On it, some icons of Canuckism: a beaver, moose, Muskoka chair, a flag, an “eh”, plus Timmy’s coffee cup and Timbit box, among some other icons.

I was excited to add these kitschy visuals to my text repertoire, but was surprised when I found this advisory when I tried to install it:


“Allow Full Access: Full access allows the developer of this keyboard to transmit anything you type, including things you have previously typed with this keyboard. This could include sensitive information such as your credit card number or street address.”

What!?! By installing this charming passtime I was potentially giving the developers access to my home address and credit card numbers? I decided not to install the keyboard right away, as I felt like this I was giving away my firstborn in exchange for a handful of cute emoticons. But I was curious, so I decided to ask Tim Hortons what gives.

I received a response back from one of their media relations folks a day later, explaining:

“This message is a standard warning that Apple requires for all third-party keyboards and apps. To enable the App, a user must grant Full-Access in order for the keyboard extension to function properly. With this access we can download the latest emojis. While we do track anonymous data such as the number of times a Moose Ehmoji is shared, our App does not collect, store or transmit any personal information such as credit cards or any typing information.”

So despite what the warning says, that’s not at all the case? Seems like an awfully dire warning for it to have no merit.  But trusting the information I recieved from the fine folks at Tims, I decided to push on with the installation to see what I might be missing.

Turns out me, and some other users are rather underwhelmed by this tool.  For starters, it does not work like a regular Emoji keyboard, in that you can’t simply tap on the icon, and it gets inserted into your text. You need to tap the icon you want, the app then copies it to the clipboard, and then you need to paste it into the message field.  So it takes extra steps, and clearly doesn’t work like a standard emoji.

IMG_4844Second problem; the icons are about three times the size of a standard emoji.  WHY, Tim Hortons, WHY?  This is perhaps the dumbest part of this app.  It takes up so much space to send one emoji, and it forces you to split your message into many parts depending how many EHmojis you text.

The fact this app works nothing like industry standard emoji apps is both bizarre and makes for a poor user experience.  Plenty of reviewers on Apple’s App Store agree. It currently gets 2/5 stars (out of +250 reviews), with comments like:

“Awful. Waste of time” -x0pa

“The keyboard is not properly compatible with the iPhone… the fact you have to copy and paste the ehmojis completely defeats the purpose”-Tallushh

“I don’t see the need for Full Access” -kkitkat

“Disappointing” -TaraXlee

While there are some people loving it, I’m not one of them.  Perhaps that is due to an iPhone/Android compatibility issue.  I’ll go back to Tim’s and ask. I’m also going to ask if they plan to work the bugs out for future versions.

For now, count me out of the EHmoji fad, eh?