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Can you remember the last time you went to pull your favorite piece of silver jewelry out of your jewelry box only to find it dark, dull, maybe even black colored? That is the last thing you want, especially if you’re in a rush getting ready! Unfortunately, this faded color is not a simple build up of dirt and dust. Your silver jewelry, sadly, has tarnished. Lucky for you this is an easy fix and practically preventable.
Sterling silver has a definite beauty and appeal. Think of the effortless, chic, girl-on-the-go or the smart, sophisticated man in the office. A jewelry collection envied by many is one filled with sterling silver, yellow and white gold, platinum, a healthy mix of all precious metals in all colorings. Sterling silver can be seamlessly mixed and matched with your gold or platinum pieces. It is a versatile metal that can enhance any look whether it's casual or formal. Another perk to sterling silver is that it is durable and extremely cost effective.
Sterling silver bracelet from ELLE Magazine’s jewelry collection. Available to shop in store or online.
What does 925 on all my silver jewelry mean?
Well, pure silver is too delicate to utilize in jewelry. To strengthen the soft metal, the pure silver is combined with other metals, mostly copper, to create a mixture of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloy metals. 925 silver is still malleable which makes it easy for jewelers to work with, and create intricate designs with lots of detail.
Look for this symbol stamped onto your jewelry, a quick way to check if a piece is sterling silver.
Why does 925 silver tarnish but pure silver does not?
Yes, 925 silver does in fact tarnish. Luckily for buyers, it all depends on how you care for your silver jewelry. If you take care of and store them properly, you can significantly increase the life on your bright white silver pieces. So, what is tarnishing? Tarnishing is a form of oxidation that happens to silver when it comes in contact with gases containing sulfur which can be found in air molecules. The chemical reaction then produces a dark coating onto your silver jewelry. When lotions, makeup, or oils interact with the jewelry, it only further accelerates the process and makes the jewelry darken faster. Doing things like wrapping your jewelry in a paper towel or tissue when traveling also will only make matters worse and most paper towel/tissue brands have sulfur based dyes infused.
The copper alloy mentioned above is the reason for the oxidation causing the tarnishing. More copper would cause quicker tarnishing. Which is one reason to always ensure your silver is 925. To do so just look for the 925 stamp when purchasing silver jewelry, usually located on or near the clasp. Think of the Statue of Liberty, made all of copper. Right now she stands tall with a green-ish-blue hue, but when she was first built, she was more of a red-orange coloring.
The Statue of Liberty before and after tarnishing.
Is tarnish the same as rust?
Not at all! And we can be thankful for that because rust erodes the metal beneath. The tarnishing does not eat away at the silver, in fact it is like new underneath. The tarnishing occurs at the surface level and can easily be reversed with a little silver cleaner or polishing cloth, whereas rusting will deteriorate the metal until it begins to chip away.
Sterling silver necklace from King Baby. Visit us in store to see this pendant in person.
How do I stop my silver jewelry from tarnishing?
Let’s be honest here…your silver jewelry will always tarnish eventually, because it is a natural element mixing with air and nature. Just because silver tarnishes should not stop you from buying and wearing this metal. As long as you take care of it, you will have beautiful jewelry for a lifetime. Truth be told, removing the tarnish is as easy as snapping your fingers. That said, here are some tips to help prolong your silver color.
We sell excellent silver cleaners in store. Don’t forget to ask for a bottle next time you’re downtown!
One of the rarest and most valuable metals on earth: rhodium. It is in the same family of metals as platinum. Rhodium is typically used in the industrial sector to prevent corrosion in automobiles. A small percentage of rhodium is used in the jewelry industry. You will not find jewelry made completely out of rhodium due to its rarity and the incredibly large price tag that would come with it. That said, it is perfect for silver and white gold jewelry. A thin layer is electroplated onto the jewelry creating a shiny, bright, white finish. You will notice that some of your silver pieces may hardly tarnish at all, this would be due to the rhodium plating. Most new silver lines utilize rhodium plating, typically marketed as an anti-tarnish treatment. One brand we carry, ELLE Jewelry, takes advantage of rhodium plating. Their pieces stay bright and white in our cases and in your jewelry box! We will do a whole other blog post about rhodium so keep your eye out for that.
Sterling silver earrings from ELLE Jewelry. Available in store or online.
All in all, sterling silver jewelry is a great way to get that classic, timeless, bright white look. With minimal maintenance you can prolong your sterling silver jewelry’s life. Check out our instagram page @joekoenjewelers to see a video showing how easy it is to clean and brighten your silver pieces. Thanks for reading this blog post and make sure to follow us on Instagram for daily posts and updates!