What is tarnish on silver?

I'm often asked if my jewelry will tarnish because it is made from sterling silver. I always answer honestly, yes. However, there are ways to prevent this if you prefer your sterling silver to be shiny and sparkling.

Why does tarnish happen?

All Silver Prophecy Jewelry is made with solid sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% silver (just like the 925 stamp on sterling silver) and 7.5% another metal, it's usually copper. That small amount of copper, reacting to the environment it is in, is what makes the silver discolor. Essentially, anything that could add moisture to the silver. Think about things like humidity, perfume, or sweat. Silver prefers to be dry, so when it interacts with these things, the surface of the silver reacts in a way that causes tarnish to happen.

Here are some tips to help prevent tarnish:

  • Store jewelry in a cool and dry place when not wearing it (Such as a pouch, bag, or box stored in a place like your bedroom or closet)
  • Avoid contact with lotions and perfumes (Put these things on first and allow to dry before your jewelry, this also includes sunscreen)
  • Remove jewelry before exercise or activity that causes sweat (Happy silver is dry silver)
  • Remove before entering water for long periods (Especially bodies of water like the ocean or a hot tub that contains high levels of salt or chemicals)
  • Wear your jewelry (The best prevention!)

Have you ever noticed that you most worn piece of silver jewelry usually doesn't tarnish as fast as a piece that isn't often worn? I always thought this odd myself, but it does actually help with tarnish prevention. That is because when we wear our silver often, it acts as a way to gently polish the piece.

How to remove tarnish

Whether from leaving your jewelry in the bathroom (I've done this plenty myself) or maybe you simply haven't worn this piece in a while, tarnish happens. With a little love, it can easily be removed to reveal that bright, shiny silver!

There's a few different methods to remove the tarnish, I suggest using a polishing cloth. Once it is completely dark and black, you'll need to get a new cloth as you cannot wash these. You can easily find these in stores and online. I like to use Selvyt brand-impregnated cloth for my jewelry. Sunshine is another good brand for making polishing cloths. You can easily find these online, such as searching on Amazon. I like to hold the cloth between my thumb and index finger and use firm pressure to rub the tarnish away. When polishing chain, such as a necklace, I like to gently pull the chain between my thumb and index finger a couple of times from different directions. This helps to ensure you're getting into the links.

Using a polishing cloth is also best if you have a piece of silver jewelry that has a set stone. Not all stones can be treated the same way as another. Silver Prophecy Jewelry primarily only works with all silver pieces of jewelry, with only a few exceptions. If you have a piece that contains a stone, never put it in water unless you are very certain that the stone is water safe.

Baking Soda and Foil Trick

While I always think having a polishing cloth is best, sometimes you have a lot of pieces with tarnish and cleaning them all individually takes some time. Another way I will remove tarnish is with baking soda and aluminum foil. IMPORTANT: This is ONLY for jewelry that contains no stones. This method will work for the majority of Silver Prophecy Jewelry but I cannot say for other silver jewelry purchased from other sources.

Here's what you need:

  • 1-2 Cups very hot water or boiled water
  • 1-2 Heaping Tablespoons Baking soda
  • 1 shallow container, like a bowl or baking dish, lined with aluminum foil shiny side up (that is VERY important)

Prepare your container with the aluminum foil shiny side up. Place your all silver jewelry pieces on the foil. It's very important that the silver is touching the foil. Once your water is very hot or boiled (Be sure to use CAUTION with boiled water and not burn yourself!), pour it over your jewelry, you'll need enough to cover all the pieces you have. Then sprinkle the baking soda evenly over the silver jewelry covered with water. Let sit for 10-30 minutes and watch magic happen! Once the tarnish has been removed, carefully remove your jewelry from the solution and rinse thoroughly. Dry your piece with a soft cloth (such as soft cotton or microfiber. Don't forget that happy silver is dry silver!

Would you ever want to have tarnish?

Fun fact, sometimes I purposely darken silver with a method called Oxidation. It's kind of like intentionally tarnishing the silver. This can also make the silver darker and give it an antiqued look. Some Silver Prophecy Jewelry pieces are finished with a patina that adds this dark look to the silver. This is mostly to highlight textures so they are more noticeable. Again, this is only surface level and with excessive use, will wear away over time. However you can also oxidize your piece at home! You can let the natural patina build up and never polish your piece.

Interested in learning more on how I intentionally oxidized my pieces? Read about it here!

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