Who wants tarnish???

So, you buy a beautiful sterling silver bracelet.  And it is bright and shiny, with no scratches and you are in love with this piece of jewelry.  You paid a premium price because it was an artisan made piece and it is of good, no, superior quality. And within 2 weeks, it begins to tarnish!  Why?  And how can you stop it from happening?  And how do you get rid of it when it happens?

First–the Why…

Sterling silver is made from 92.5 percent fine silver and 7.5% copper alloy.  The reason for this is that fine silver by itself is too soft for most jewelry–so they add copper to strengthen the metal.  Copper is a “dirty” metal which changes color or “oxidizes” making the silver turn dark.

How do you stop tarnish?  You really can’t stop it completely, however there are steps you can take to slow it down. First–you have to know what speeds up tarnish—and some of these are avoidable, others, not so much.  So what speeds up tarnish?

  • Pool chemicals
  • Perfumes
  • Skin Oils
  • Humidity
  • Ammonia
  • Hair Spray
  • Eggs, Mayonnaise, Some salad dressings,
  • And salty foods

So okay–you don’t want to necessarily give all of this up to wear silver. In some cases, you can think ahead and put on jewelry after you spray your hair, or take a shower, etc….but you can’t always avoid contact with chemicals or salt.

How do you slow it down, or remove it all together?

  • Well, to avoid oxidation between wearings, you should store your silver in a Ziploc baggy.  This will surely help.  You can purchase a “Sunshine Cloth” from a jewelry store jewelry supply company (even Amazon sells them) to polish your jewelry before wearing it.  These cloths last a very long time and work wonderfully.  Or you can use one of my favorite techniques–especially for chains, and hard to clean jewelry:
  • Take a Ceramic or glass dish
  • Line it with Aluminum Foil
  • Place your silver jewelry on the foil
  • Sprinkle with Baking Soda
  • Pour boiling water over the jewelry –the aluminum foil interacts with the baking soda and takes away the tarnish!  Use only glass or ceramic pans that can withstand heat!  The jewelry only needs a minute or two to get rid of the tarnish!

In my next blog–I will talk about a new silver alloy that does not tarnish….I am beginning to work with Argentium silver—-I love it and you might too…the same amount of silver so the quality is there.  (This was a sneak peak and a tease….So until next time!tarnish

  • Thanks for the info on doing this!! I’m always afraid that I’m going to hurt my jewelry, but now I feel confident! Thank you!

  • A very informative post! Tarnish is something that we all have to deal with and these tips will help keep my collection shiny and new! I design jewellery as well but I haven’t had the courage to start something of my own.. maybe soon?!

    • I know you can do it ! I really believe in starting with small steps–before you know it, you will be there Meghan!

      • I certainly hope so!!! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words of encouragement!

  • I store my jewelry with those little pkgs of silica that are in prescription bottles and aspirin bottles. Works like a charm. Baggies too!!! I rarely have tarnish issues.
    If I wear a bracelet in summer heat and sweat, I wash it with dish soap and water and put it in the dehydrator I use to dry fruit and then store it with the other pieces.
    I also never store silver with copper, brass or any other base metal.

    • Thanks for sharing these tips Donna!