Q) My item isn't as shiny as it was when I first received it. How do I clean my sterling silver jewelry?
A) To clean the tarnish from your sterling silver item, rub it with the silver polishing cloth that you received with your order. The microfiber cloth will remove the black or brownish tarnish stains. These stains are the result of oxidization and are normal for sterling silver. Do not use chemicals or abrasives, especially if your item has a stone set on it. To prevent damage while you're polishing, take care that you're not putting undue strain on solder joints and ensure that the item is adequately supported so that thinner parts of the item aren't accidentally bent out of shape. For tarnish prevention, store your silver with an anti-tarnish tab. It won't completely stop tarnishing, but it will help slow the process by absorbing some of the agents in the air that contribute to sterling silver's oxidization.
Q) How do I measure my ring size at home?
A) The best and most accurate way to measure your ring size is to use a ring sizer, also known as a finger gauge or ring-size gauge. (This is the tool that resembles a key ring with a bunch of rings dangling from it.) They come in metal and plastic; both can be accurate. Amazon, Rio Grande, Otto Frei, and other jewelry tool suppliers sell well-rated ring sizers for as little as $4. I've not used the ones that resemble a zip tie, so I can't speak to their accuracy. Do not use paper or dental floss to calculate your size. These stretch and conform to your finger in ways that metal will not. Taking the time to order and receive a proper tool will save you money and disappointment in the long run because an accurate measurement will lessen the likelihood that you'll have to return a ring because it doesn't fit.
Q) How do I use a ring gauge to measure my ring size?
A) First, I suggest measuring your finger in the afternoon or evening and when you're at a comfortable temperature. If your body is overly warm, your fingers will likely be larger than usual. Conversely, if you're cold, your fingers will be smaller. The rings on your gauge will be organized from smallest to largest by half sizes. (There are some ring sizers that also include 1/4 sizes.) Cycle through the rings until you find one that slides comfortably yet snugly over your knuckle without having to force it. Snug means that it meets some resistance but isn't so tight that it cuts off blood flow or risks the chance that the ring will get stuck. (If it does get stuck, don't panic. You can use cool soapy water to get it to slide back off.) Once on, your ring should feel comfortable at the base of your finger without being overly loose or tight. If your knuckles are significantly larger than the base of your finger, you may have to live with having a ring that spins or you can look into buying a plastic ring-size adjuster that attaches to the inside of the band to keep it tight once you've slipped it over your knuckle.
Keep in mind that your ring sizer is going to give you a measurement for a ring that's the same width as the ring sizer's band. (To be clear, width refers to the space a ring takes up on your finger as you gaze down at your hand. Thickness refers to the gauge of the metal.) For example, my ring sizer has plastic ring bands that are 3.5 mm in width. Using this tool, my resulting ring measurement will be accurate for a 3.5 mm wide band. I would need to add or subtract from this measurement if I want to buy a ring with a band wider or narrower than 3.5 mm.
The wider your desired ring band is from the tool's bands the larger your size needs to be in order to end up with a ring that slides over and fits comfortably on your finger. (A wider band exhibits more friction on your finger with its larger surface area in contact with your skin.) Unfortunately, I don't know of a formula for figuring this out. I have found that for me ring bands wider than 4 to 6 mm need to have 1/4 added to my size in order to fit properly. For ring bands 7 mm or wider, I would add 1/2 to my ring size. For ring bands wider than 10 mm, I add at least 3/4 size and for 12 mm, I'd add a full ring size.
Here's an example: My ring sizer with 3.5 mm bands says I wear a size 8 on my left ring finger. This works great for a dainty ring that isn't quite 2 mm wide. For a 12 mm wide spinner ring, however, I needed to increase my size to a 9 for the ring to fit me comfortably.
If you're stacking more than a couple of rings on the same finger, you're essentially creating a wide band. You'll want to measure up 1/4 a size for those dainty bands if you want to stack them more than 3 together and have them fit comfortably.