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  • Tori Foster

Tarnish

What is it? Is it good or bad and how to deal with it.


Tarnish will happen over time as the metal reacts with the surrounding environment. Sterling silver is made up of fine silver and copper. You may have seen jewellery marked with 925, this is the metal finesse mark. This means that the metal is 92.5 parts silver and 7.5 copper. It's that bit of copper that encourages the tarnishing process.


Tarnishing is also known as oxidation, if you can cast your minds back to your science lessons you may remember that term. The layer of tarnish helps to protect the metal underneath, it doesn’t always look desirable as it dulls your once shiny silver.


Tarnishing is not all bad though, you may have seen some of my pieces have a black background or recesses. This is where we can actually use tarnishing to our advantage. Turing the silver black is a sped-up version of the tarnishing process. Silver is turned black by using an oxidising solution but you can achieve some wonderful colours if you vary the time the metal spends in the solution.


It’s good to bare in mind that polishing will remove tarnish so if there are any areas of your jewellery where it is meant to be darker, avoid those when polishing!


While you can’t stop the tarnishing process, you can slow it down. Storing your jewellery with a piece of chalk or a silica gel packet can help. You can read more at this blog, Caring for Your Jewellery.


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