Sterling silver is a very popular precious metal when it comes to jewelry, known for its lustre and shine as well as its affordability. Since it does make beautiful jewelry, there are a few things you’ll want to know about maintaining that signature sparkle. We’re well-versed in all things silver here at Jewlr, so we thought we’d shed some light on the subject with answers to some common customer concerns and questions…
Will silver jewelry turn my skin green?
People often assume that when a silver ring leaves a green mark on your finger, it means the ring isn’t “real” and isn’t actually made of sterling silver. That isn’t the case at all… we promise! Quality silver jewelry is made using “.925 Sterling Silver,” which is a blend of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of another metal. The green reaction is is due to a chemical reaction between moisture on your skin and this added metal. Roughly 2-3% of people will react like this to their jewelry. This moisture could be anything from water to lotions, soaps and even sweat. People often experience a similar reaction when wearing copper jewelry, as copper is an alloy commonly used with sterling silver.
My friend always wears sterling silver and has never had a reaction. Is there something wrong with my jewelry?
No! This green finger is the result of a chemical reaction and we all have different body chemistry. Some of us are naturally more acidic than others and will react more quickly as the acids in our sweat and on our skin impact the metal. Don’t worry- this just means is that some of us may need to polish our sterling silver more often than others. In most cases this reaction will go away after a day or two.
Why is my sterling silver jewelry tarnishing?
If you notice your jewelry has lost some of it’s original shine or has started to turn black, this does not mean that it was not made with real silver either. Similar to the chemical reaction with moisture that can stain skin green, the alloys in the metal can also react with hydrogen sulfide and oxygen in the air and begin to tarnish. This reaction is also known as “oxidization” and occurs with all genuine sterling silver. Silver tarnish impacts the surface of the jewelry without damaging the underlying metal, and therefore can easily be removed by polishing or cleaning the silver properly.
Why do some pieces of sterling silver jewelry tarnish more, or faster than others?
There are many different factors that can affect the rate of oxidization. Some jewelry companies will plate their sterling silver jewelry with another metal, such as rhodium or nickel, to protect it from the elements and reduce tarnishing. Jewlr is an environmentally friendly company so we do not plate our jewelry with nickel, but will happily add a rhodium coating to your Jewlr pieces (both new and old) upon request.
If it is the alloys in .925 Sterling Silver that cause these reactions, why not make jewelry with 100% silver?
While silver itself does not tarnish or turn green, the pure metal is too soft on its own to be made into functional jewelry. Pure silver needs to be combined with other metals for adequate strength and durability. Copper is a strong and versatile metal that is often alloyed with sterling silver for jewelry making.
How do I clean tarnished silver?
Luckily even badly tarnished silver can look like new again with a little effort. You can purchase silver cleaning solutions or special polishing cloths to remove tarnish, or even try an at-home remedy (like toothpaste!).
How can I protect my sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing?
There is no way to prevent tarnishing all together, but avoiding certain things can make a big difference. Since sterling silver is so sensitive to moisture, you should always remove your rings when washing your hands or showering. Try to avoid heavy lotions or moisturizers when wearing your jewelry and always wear gloves when using household cleaning supplies or handling chemicals. These simple steps will significantly decrease tarnishing and maintain the sparkle and shine of your favorite accessories!
No matter what metal your jewelry is made of, proper maintenance is essential. Sterling silver jewelry is so stunning, it’s more than worth a little extra care. You can visit Jewlr.com today to customize the perfect piece of jewelry today with your choice of metal, gemstones and personalized engraving!