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How Does Silver Tarnish?

silver tarnished spoons

Owning silver jewelry can be tricky. On one hand, a silver necklace or bracelet can greatly enhance your outfit. However, sometimes its propensity to tarnish can ruin the look of your silver accessories.

Today, we’ll explain why silver tarnishes and what you can do to help prevent your favorite silver accessories or utensils from losing their sheen.

What Causes Silver To Tarnish?

Pure silver never tarnishes. However, you likely don’t own a piece of jewelry or utensil made from pure silver because it is so soft it cannot be used to make these kinds of items.

Pure silver is often mixed with other metals like copper to create an alloy that is stronger and more durable. Usually, sterling silver is created, which is made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals (typically copper). While the addition of copper makes silver more durable, it also makes sterling silver more likely to tarnish by reacting to chemicals in the air.

Often sterling silver will react to sulfur, which is found in the air, especially if you live in an urban or industrial area. When silver meets hydrogen sulfide, which is known for its “rotting egg” smell, it reacts to form silver sulfide, the substance that constitutes the tarnish that forms over silver objects. Copper found in sterling silver will also react with oxygen to form red copper oxide, which could also tarnish your silver’s surface.

Tips To Help Prevent Silver Tarnishing

Luckily, you can help prevent or at least delay the tarnishing of your silver by taking a couple of actions:

  1. Wear Your Silver Regularly

A great way to help prevent your silver jewelry from tarnishing is by wearing it regularly. Your skin’s natural oils can assist in keeping your jewelry clean.

  1. Polishing cloths

Using a polishing cloth for your silver is one of the best ways to prevent and remove tarnish. You can get microfiber silver polishing cloths from jewelers or jeweler supply shops. These cloths are typically infused with a silver-polishing substance that helps to keep your silver clean.  

  1. Keep Your Jewelry In A Dry Area

Moisture can greatly speed up silver tarnishing. The higher the humidity level, the faster your silver will tarnish. To avoid this, place some chalk or silica gel where you store your jewelry. They will help to absorb moisture from the storage area and keep it dry.

Is Your Silver Jewelry Too Old or Tarnished? Sell Your Scrap Silver Jewelry

If you feel it’s time to change out your silver jewelry for something new, don’t stick it in your attic and forget about it just yet. Consider selling your scrap silver jewelry to a precious metals refiner like Manhattan Gold & Silver. We process silver scrap fast and base our valuation on the latest London Fixing Prices.

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