Sterling silver will tarnish when it comes into contact with sweat, amongst other things. A number of things can make sterling silver jewelry tarnish, including natural body oils and lotions. Fortunately, it is possible to avoid tarnish by avoiding sweat and other damaging liquids and making sure to take proper care of your jewelry.
In this article, we look at the details of whether sterling silver with tarnish with sweat, including why it happens, how to prevent it, and some of the other most frequently asked questions.
Table of Contents
Does sterling silver tarnish with sweat?
Sterling silver does tarnish when it is exposed to many things, including sweat, particularly if you aren’t taking proper care of your sterling silver jewelry.
Tarnish refers to the appearance of discoloration on the surface of the jewelry and it happens as a reaction to chemicals in the air or liquid it comes into contact with.
Sterling silver tarnishes more easily when it isn’t being taken care of, which means you must be careful to clean it correctly, store it properly, and try to keep it away from anything harmful. If you can do these things, you can help to protect your sterling silver from tarnishing and hopefully make it last longer.
All forms of sterling silver are vulnerable to tarnish, including 925 sterling silver. This is one of the main differences between sterling silver and pure silver, which does not tarnish at all.
While tarnish might concern most people, it doesn’t mean that jewelry is ruined or lower quality. Instead, it’s just the result of an interaction with chemicals.
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What happens when sterling silver tarnishes?
Tarnish occurs when the chemicals in sterling silver – copper and pure silver – come into contact with any other chemicals. As sweat naturally contains chemicals from the skin, it can cause the sterling silver to tarnish very easily.
It commonly occurs as a layer of discoloration appears on the surface of the silver, which is usually black or yellow.
When sterling silver becomes tarnished, a silver sulfide film forms over the top of it, which causes your jewelry to take on discoloration that can affect the way it looks.
This discoloration may occur as dots over the surface of the jewelry or may be more widespread and cover a larger space.
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How long does it take sterling silver to tarnish?
Tarnish on sterling silver can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, which can be accelerated by other factors like how much you wear it, how much it comes into contact with harmful chemicals, and how well you care for it.
The better care you give your jewelry, the longer it will take to tarnish.
Some sterling silver jewelry will contain other metals, like gold, platinum, or metal plating, to make sure that it lasts as long as possible and to prevent it from ever tarnishing, as these metals add extra protection against tarnish.
Can you prevent sterling silver tarnishing?
You can avoid tarnishing by making sure not to wear your sterling silver jewelry when you are cleaning your house, exercising, or showering.
Any of these activities expose your jewelry to sweat and liquids that can damage it and cause it to tarnish, so it’s best if you store it safely away.
It is also possible to prevent sterling silver from tarnishing by making sure you always take proper care of it when you are not wearing it. Things like where you store your silver and how you clean it will affect whether it tarnishes and how quickly it happens and can help you to prevent tarnishing from happening.
The best way to store your silver jewelry is by metal, so you can be sure that each metal is being properly cared for. You might want to consider a jewelry organizer with compartments to make sure you can easily separate it.
This way, you can separate your jewelry by fine and semi-fine, which may help to stop tarnishing.
It’s important that you keep your jewelry somewhere cool, dry, and dark to avoid tarnishing. If your jewelry is kept somewhere damp or humid, it is more likely to tarnish in response.
Making sure it stays somewhere consistent in temperature and humidity can help to prevent it from tarnishing.
Keeping your silver clean is another great way of helping to prevent tarnish. Jewelry should be cleaned regularly to keep on top of any tarnish and remove it as you see it.
Just make sure that it’s completely dry when you store it back away.
Can you reverse tarnishing?
It is possible to reverse tarnishing on your sterling silver. Most tarnishing is surface deep, so cleaning your jewelry thoroughly may help with some tarnishing.
You can use a cloth to remove some tarnish by polishing it gently with a soft, nonabrasive flannel or microfiber cloth.
Use back and forth movements to remove the tarnish gently but thoroughly.
You can also try a few different ingredient combinations for tarnish, including soap and water, baking soda and water, and olive oil and lemon juice, all of which can be used when using a dry cloth doesn’t work.
Soap and water should be the first method you try, as this is the most gentle compared to the others.
Do all metals tarnish?
Not all metals tarnish. Some metals, like platinum, gold, aluminum, and titanium, will not tarnish, no matter what they come into contact with. This means they are safe for constant wear, unlike metals that may be susceptible to tarnishing.
Other metals, including copper, bronze, and brass, will almost definitely tarnish. These metals are more vulnerable to tarnishing due to their chemical composition, which is extremely reactive when it comes into contact with other chemicals.
A number of others, such as plated and filled metals and pure silver may tarnish, but it’s likely to depend on how you use them and care for them.
Sterling Silver FAQs
1 What is sterling silver?
Sterling silver is simply an alternative to pure silver or real silver. It is used in place of silver as it is stronger, meaning it is more suitable for jewelry.
Many jewelers prefer to use sterling silver in their craft due to its strength and physical similarity to pure silver, which allows them to create pieces that are aesthetically similar to silver but for cheaper.
Sterling silver is made when pure silver and copper are mixed together, which makes it around 92.5% pure. Sometimes, it might also be mixed with other metals like nickel or zinc, which help to make it stronger.
However, even on its own, sterling silver is a tough, durable, and long-lasting metal alloy that is perfect for jewelry.
2 How long does sterling silver usually last?
Sterling silver can last a lifetime, but only if it is very well cared for. People who care for their sterling silver well, cleaning it regularly, protecting it from harmful chemicals, and storing it correctly, are likely to notice little change in their sterling silver over the years.
3 Is sterling silver worth buying?
You might think sterling silver isn’t worth buying if it is likely to tarnish. However, a lot of jewelry is made using sterling silver, so it’s likely that you will buy some at some point.
It’s also a great metal for jewelry, and a little bit of tarnishing shouldn’t put you off buying something just because it is sterling silver.
Sterling silver is also typically quite a bit cheaper than pure silver, meaning you can save money on your jewelry.
And as long as you take the right steps to protect your jewelry from tarnishing, there’s no reason it can’t last just as long as silver.
4 Should you wear sterling silver regularly?
It might seem counterintuitive but wearing your sterling silver jewelry regularly can help to keep it in its best condition and may even help to prevent tarnishing.
As sterling silver is worn, it is protected from tarnish, so long as it is kept safe from things that can damage it.
You may want to consider taking your jewelry off at night to go to sleep or when you shower, as this can help to protect it. If your store your jewelry away at night when you aren’t wearing it, you are more likely to find that it lasts a lot longer and stays safe from tarnish and other kinds of damage.
So long as you clean your sterling silver jewelry after you have worn it and return it to its proper storage place, there’s no reason you can’t continue to wear and enjoy it for a very long time!
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Like many metals, sterling silver will tarnish when it comes into contact with sweat. Tarnish occurs as a result of silver being exposed to sweat, which causes discoloration to the surface of the silver.
Luckily, if you properly care for, clean, and store your sterling silver, you may be able to avoid and even prevent tarnish.
Lindsey graduated with an MBA in 2009. Since then, Lindsey has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Lindsey is also the head writer and Co-founder of Rvandplaya.com. Lindsey is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.
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