Reasons Why Jewellery Tarnish and How Do You Prevent This from Happening?

18 November 2021

What Causes Your Jewellery to Tarnish?

Metal jewellery can tarnish when its surfaces come in contact with some makeup, body oils, perspiration, sulphur, perfumes, deodorants, skin lotions and other substances. Tarnished jewellery surfaces may appear slightly dull or blackened, according to the type of metal used in making the item.

You can help keep your metal jewellery from tarnishing by storing it in a dry, dark place. It is also helpful to keep different types of metal jewellery separated when stored.

Metals that Tarnish

Many different metals tarnish to some degree, but the two main metals used in making jewellery that tarnishes are brass and sterling silver.

• Brass. Jewellery items made of brass will tarnish over time and with wear. Yet this metal assumes an appealing organic appearance that is attractive as it tarnishes. The reason that this type of brass tarnishes is that it contains copper. When copper is exposed to skin for any length of time, it often oxidises and may turn skin green. Even if you are not allergic to brass or copper, you may want to avoid wearing jewellery items that contain brass.

• Sterling Silver. Different factors and conditions may cause the sterling silver to tarnish. As a natural chemical element, sulphur that is often found in air particles in cities and industrial areas can tarnish sterling silver. Chlorine in swimming pool water is also known to cause sterling silver jewellery to tarnish. Acid levels in human skin may also create signs of tarnishing in sterling silver items. The skin of some individuals may have such a high pH level that silver jewellery tarnishes soon after they put it on.

Best Method for Cleaning Tarnished Jewellery

You can clean tarnished jewellery, returning the metal to its original bright shine or soft glow using the following methods:

• Brass. Using a soft cloth saturated with soap and water, rub the metal surfaces of your jewellery items gently and repeatedly. This should remove the tarnish. For more seriously tarnished items, you may need to use brass polish instead of soap and water. After cleansing, take time to wipe the item completely dry with another soft cloth. Then polish it gently using a soft metal polishing cloth for jewellery.

• Sterling Silver. If you clean your sterling silver jewellery items with a recommended silver polish and a soft cloth when tarnished, they should stay bright and beautiful between cleanings. After cleaning each item, be sure to wipe it dry with another clean soft cloth. Afterwards, use a jewellery polishing cloth to return the silver to its original bright sheen.

All gold items of jewellery that are 14-karat or more, rarely tarnish. If they do show signs of tarnishing, they will be slight signs that are often barely noticeable. When making gold-plated pieces, some jewellery designers place 14-kt gold over nickel-free brass, using thick coatings for necklaces, bracelets and rings.

By consulting our experts at Ken Ross Jewellers located in Ashburton, Victoria, you will gain excellent information and advice concerning removing tarnish from your metal jewellery items. Our experienced professionals will guide you in selecting the ideal methods for keeping your beautiful items of metal jewellery completely free of tarnish, with smooth and lustrous surfaces.

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