Ever wonder why your silver jewellery tarnishes much quicker than your gold, or why your silver jewellery seems to tarnish more quickly than everybody elses. Well here is a quick rundown on what causes silver to tarnish, and what can be done to reduce, delay, or remove it.
While many of us think of sterling silver as being pure, in fact it is only 92.5% pure with the remaining 7.5% being a mixture of metals which make it harder (including copper). It’s the copper when exposed to air which makes it tarnish. This can be hastened by chemicals (either internal body chemistry), or external via exposure to environmental elements.
FACTORS WHICH MAY INFLUENCE THE RATE OF TARNISH INCLUDE:
- skin oils
- body acidity
- salt (including salt water e.g pools and sea)
- soaps and fragrances
- foods high in sulfur including onions
- non purified water and silver remaining wet
- acidity of storage boxes and pouches.
STORAGE OF YOUR JEWELLERY.
While it may be appealing to store your jewellery in a fabric jewellery box, exposure to certain fabrics and humidity can result in the silver quickly tarnishing. While nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing as a jewellery box, silver jewellery that is not being worn should be stored in a sealed plastic bag. If you must insist on using a jewellery box, be sure to invest in some anti tarnish tabs.
CLEANING YOUR JEWELLERY
Normally the tarnish will lift easily with a soft silver polishing cloth or a chemically impregnated polishing pad. Polishing pads are often provided with Custom Keepsakes guitar picks, bookmarks and pendants. Many jewellers will use a tumbler, or ultrasonic cleaner to gently remove tarnish. While silver dips, silver polish (for example Silvo), and baking soda solutions can be used, these should be used with caution particularly if a patina (sulphur based solution) has been used to highlight or darken areas.
If you love to wear silver but think your body chemistry might be the issue, try looking for fine silver (99.9% pure silver), or Argentium silver, which contains another ingredient providing a protective layer slowing the onset of tarnishing. All Custom Keepsakes fingerprint jewellery is created from fine silver, with sterling silver findings. Alternatively use a fine layer of Renaissance Wax (which is a super fine lacquer like substance) to create a waterproof barrier between the jewellery and your skin.
Interested in exploring our range of fine silver and sterling silver personalised keepsake jewellery?
For more information on cleaning your silver jewellery, keep an eye on my blog posts.