Why does my sterling silver tarnish?
One of the most common questions we get from our customers is advice on how they can keep their silver or plated components in premium condition. Once you have made the investment silver to put in your latest designs, it is important to make sure you are taking the proper precautions to store it properly and keep their natural brilliance in tact.
First, what causes sterling silver to tarnish? The cause of tarnishing or discoloration of sterling silver is the reaction between the alloy portion of the sterling silver with tarnish causing chemicals or gases. These tarnish causing chemicals can be anything from lotions to perfumes to sweat, which, when in contact with your unprotected silver, will eventually cause it to tarnish. As for the gases, particularly of note are hydrogen sulfide and sulphur dioxide, both which occur and exist in abundant amounts from either natural or man-made sources.
What can I do to protect my investment?
Follow these simple steps to make sure your findings or finished jewelry has its best chance.
- Always keep your findings stored away in bags or a box with anti-tarnish strips or in a jewelry saver bag. One strip per bag or small box should be more than enough. If you have an ongoing project, try to at least cover your project with a cloth and keep and anti-tarnish strip along side.
- Always wash your hands before handling your findings, this reduces the chance that you will introduce something that wasn’t there before.
- For finished pieces, apply your lotions, perfumes and cosmetics before putting on your jewelry. Also inform your customers to do the same either when they purchase or include information on jewelry care with your product.
- Use a silver cloth to give your pieces a good wipe, especially after you have had a show where others may have tried or held your jewelry.
Many of our sterling silver beads and findings are now coming with an anti-tarnish finish or fine silver plating or both which can help to protect findings and finished pieces. Unfortunately these are not always enough to protect from some environmental factors or severe neglect.
As mentioned above, we do offer anti-tarnish strips from 3M at a great price and you can buy as many or as few as you want and they are good for about 6 months of use. Check here for pricing. These are great little protectors that can easily be put into a bag or a jar along with your findings and will provide a nice level of protection.
Be on the lookout for some new items from us this year in findings that will help you design tarnish free jewelry.