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Why does my silver jewelry tarnish?

We have all been there. After multiple outfit changes you have finally settled on the perfect outfit for a night out with your friends. While rummaging through the pile of accessories on your dresser you spot your favorite sterling silver cocktail ring fit for a movie star. As you slip it on ready to dazzle the world you notice your normally sparkly piece looks dull, spotty and lack luster.  Since you are already running late you take the ring off and head out the door feeling a little less  "put together".  Good old jewelry tarnish, the bane of jewelry wearers all around the world! 

 One day I was in the auto repair shop lamenting a costly car repair when my  mechanic said to me  "The only way to prevent car repairs is to not own a car". I think the same applies to jewelry.  No jewelry, no tarnish right? Wrong! I'm not getting rid of my jewelry and neither are you so read on.


What is jewelry made of anyway ?

Pure gold and silver are too soft for daily wear therefore most jewelry is made from alloys. An alloy is a metal made by combining two or more metallic elements. These metallic elements affect color, strength and resistance to corrosion. Gold and silver jewelry can be alloyed with copper, nickel, or and zinc to make is strong enough for daily wear.  Some alloys, especially those that contain copper are particularly prone to tarnishing e.g, (sterling silver and rose gold).


Jewelry reacts to the environment you live in.

Tarnish can be caused by environmental factors (humidity), household chemicals, personal care products, and even your own body chemistry. While it may not be possible to completely prevent tarnish, here are some tips to keep your jewelry looking great between cleanings.

  1. Remove jewelry when showering, washing dishes, swimming, or exercising.
  2. Put on  your jewelry as last when getting ready (cosmetics, perfumes etc. can speed up the tarnish process).
  3. After removing your jewelry, wipe dry with a microfiber cloth and store in a ziplock bag or jewelry  box.
  4. Use jewelry polishing pads to spruce up brass, sterling silver and copper pieces. 
 Knowing what your jewelry is made of and how to care for it will keep your jewelry looking beautiful for years to come. For a more in depth guide on how to care for your specific type of jewelry check out my jewelry care guide.

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