What is Silver Tarnish and How to Combat it

What is Silver Tarnish and How to Combat it

Well truthfully, silver jewellery will always tarnish, because that is the nature of 925/sterling silver.

Silver bars 

Sterling silver aka 925 silver is 92.50 parts fine silver mixed with 7.50 parts alloy (copper in most cases) to make sterling silver. Alloying fine silver is important to make it strong enough to be worked into jewellery and for it to maintain it's shape for a longer period of time. Silver is actually quite a soft metal so it needs a bit of help. The alloy in sterling silver is what makes it react to perfumes, makeup, sweat and chemicals.



The black you see on your silver jewellery is only on the surface and doesn’t permanently damage your silver jewellery.


The beauty of sterling silver is that it can always be cleaned up – either at home or with a professional polish/cleaning.


To make sure you don’t have to clean it too often, here are some steps to prevent/slowdown the appearance of tarnish.

  1. Store it properly 
  • When you're not wearing your silver jewellery, it's important to store it properly to prevent tarnishing and damage. Keep it in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture.


  • Storing your jewellery in separate bags will help prevent other pieces from scratching them or from getting chains tangled.


    1. Avoid harsh chemicals 
      • The chemicals in cosmetics – makeup, perfumes, lotions and hair products are quite harmful to silver jewellery. We suggest that you put on your cosmetics first, wash your hands and then put on your silver jewellery.


      • If you love the outdoors like most of us here in Africa, sunscreen is probably something you wear a lot of – remember that this will also affect your silver jewllery. Our suggestion is that you take your rings off before applying sunscreen. Not only will it prevent tarnish but also who wants that gummy residue caught between your ringer and your rings. Yeah, I am guilty and that is why I know! 😊


      • Removing your jewellery before diving into a swimming pool is a good idea too. I am not a good girl when it comes to this rule – I hate leaving my jewellery lying around and always afraid to lose it – so it all goes in the pool with me and then I grumble to myself when I must give it a professional clean! I’ll leave you arguing with yourself on this as to whether you think it is worth it. You could possibly leave your jewellery at home if you are going swimming but who wants to go out into the world naked!! 😊


      • Household cleaners are also to blame for tarnishing rings – so again – best to remove your rings when doing any cleaning – I have also not done this and the cleaning solution got between my ring and my finger and basically gave me a chemical peel! It is a great excuse to get out of cleaning of course so maybe just keep those rings on!! 😊


      • Sanitizer – this one is almost an instantaneous tarnish agent! I was at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair as an exhibitor towards the end of the Covid pandemic and since I was interacting with people and handling jewellery that they had tried on I literally was sanitizing every 5 minutes. After my first day on the stand my rings were pitch black.


      • Sweat is also a culprit and here in Zimbabwe where we have about 9 months of summer, it is kind of hard to avoid. The problem is that silver jewellery reacts to sweat and depending on what is going on with you hormonally it can be worse during your period, during pregnancy and when you hit menopause. I’ve hit all three of those stages in my life and for the first few decades of my life my silver jewellery barely tarnished but when I hit menopause – whoa horsy – everything turned black on me.
      The effects of alcohol on your sweat is a big one too – this is one that is hard to avoid – dressing up – going out for a party and drinks kind of goes with jewellery.  
      According to Shape.com, If you notice that your sweat is stinkier after imbibing, it's not in your head. "The diacetic acid changes the composition of your bodily fluids and leads to an odor like vinegar or nail polish remover," explains sports medicine specialist Naresh Rao, D.O., FAOASM, head physician of the USA men's water polo team.
      Diacetic acid in sweat isn’t very kind to silver jewellery. Silver jewellery is kind of a tattler tail! If your teenage son or daughters, comes to you with a bangle that tarnished practically overnight, you might have to raise an eyebrow.

      So, you now know how to avoid tarnish but let’s be honest sometimes you need a drink while lounging around the pool and who wants to lose jewellery by taking it off! No worries we have a plan for you! 😊


      Clean your jewellery regularly

      At the end of the day when you take your jewellery off, please give it a wipe down with the little jewellery cloth we provide with each of our Zuri Collection pieces. If you didn’t buy your silver jewllery from us, sozz guys, you need to buy from us next time - Lol! Ok, well we would love you to but you can buy polish embedded cloths online too. 

      Once in a while it is a good idea to give all your pieces a good clean. We suggest this method only for pieces without gemstones – the reason is that the heat and or the chemicals in the dishwashing liquid and lemon juice can damage some of the more fragile stones.


      Jewelry Cleaning Solution Recipe
      (I repeat - only for pieces without stone):
      - 1 cup boiling hot water
      - 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid
      - 1 tablespoon lemon juice
      Drop your jewelry in the solution and allow it to soak for a minute. Rinse in hot water and dry. For items that have not been cleaned in a long time, use a soft toothbrush to loosen the dirt. Repeat if needed.

      (P.S. A little kitchen hack here for you too – I can focus on designing a ring for 8 hours but can’t focus long enough to boil an egg so I have burned a lot in my life – if you use the above recipe on a really burnt pot it also does wonders!!)


      Get a Professional Cleaning

      Occasionally a professional polish to remove scratches and cleaning is not a bad idea for your favourite pieces. We provide you with free cleaning for all your pieces bought from us if you are in Bulawayo - good reason to come visit the City of Kings!


      Typically, when we get receive a piece of jewellery, we assess it for lose stones or any damage. Once we know it is good to go, we will first polish out any scratches on our bench mounted mops and then use our commercial ultrasonic cleaner to clean out all the dirt.


      Your piece will look shiny and new no matter how many of the rules you (and I) broke!! 😊


      So, in conclusion


      As with all things bright and beautiful a little care will go a long way to making sure your jewellery maintains its beauty for years to come.  


      If you have questions on how to clean jewellery with gemstones, please WhatsApp me on +263-783-549-679 or e-mail me to sales.thezuricollection@gmail.com



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