The Oxidation Process in Sterling Silver is easy to solve. 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.
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. Sterling silver on the other hand is not a surface treatment of another metal. Sterling silver is a precious metal and a label of purity. The term sterling silver means that the metal is 92.5% pure silver. Sterling Silver Oxidization and Tarnishing
So, let’s start with preventing the tarnishing process. Because jewellery tarnishes, or oxidizes, 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.
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.