Will my jewellery tarnish?

Tarnish. It's the one thing that no-one likes to talk about, but it really does happen to everyone!  Over the years, we’ve been asked many times “will my sterling silver jewellery tarnish?”.  In short, yes.  The good news is that you can prevent the tarnishing from occurring, remove it if it does occur and that the tarnishing, or oxidation process,  in no way indicates poor quality jewellery. 

Where has the misconception regarding tarnish come from?

The misconception that jewellery that tarnishes is of lower quality, we think, stems from confusion between silver plated jewellery and sterling silver jewellery.  Silver plated jewellery is jewellery that has been coated, or plated over with silver.  This coating, depending on how thick it was originally applied, will eventually rub off revealing a different colour of metal underneath - which is usually something darker - like brass.  Sterling silver on the other hand is not a surface treatment of another metal.  The term "sterling silver" means that the metal is 92.5% pure silver. 

How do I prevent tarnish from occuring?

Because jewellery tarnishes, or oxidises, naturally when it is exposed to oxygen it may seem impossible to prevent this process from occurring but it isn’t.  The impurities in the air around us attach to the surface of the metal, slowly turning it a duller and darker colour.  While we wear our jewellery it is constantly being touched and rubbed which actually serves to inhibit the impurities from attaching themselves to the metal surface in the first place.  It is when we leave our jewellery unworn for extended periods of time that it tarnishes more quickly and heavily.  The simple act of placing your jewellery into an airtight plastic bag will prevent the oxidation process from occurring and your jewellery will look as beautiful as it did the first day you purchased it. 

Why did my jewellery turn black when I put it on?

On occasion, we have had customers explain to us that their jewellery has turned black where it touches their skin and they fear they have been sold poor quality jewellery.  The sterling silver jewellery that turns black on your skin has nothing to do with the purity of the metal but everything to do with the chemicals of your skin interacting with the sterling silver.  Our body chemistry can change from season to season, and even day to day depending on our diet.   We do tend to see this blackening, particularly on the underside of a necklace, more during the hot  and humid summer months when people tend to perspire heavily.  The sweat interacts with the metal, turning the metal black.  This is not a permanent colour change and the jewellery simply requires a good cleaning.  Not all people have this effect on sterling silver but for those that do, take heart that it can be avoided by simply not wearing your jewellery on particularly hot days or taking your jewellery off before you slip your running shoes on. 

Removal of Tarnish

We have two very simple home remedies to remove tarnish from your jewellery. We would always recommend these over harsh silver dips or other cleaners - not only because we find them more effective, but they don't remove any of the surface metal.

Home Remedy 1

  1. Place jewelry on a double layer of aluminum foil in a small dish
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda
  3. Pour boiling water onto the jewelry
  4. Soak for 10 minutes
  5. Remove and pat dry with paper towel

Home Remedy 2 (works on more stubborn oxidation)

  1. Place jewelry in a small dish
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda
  3. Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
  4. Soak for 5 minutes
  5. Remove and pat dry with paper towel