Preventing tarnish on jewellery

Simple prevention

One simple way to keep your jewellery looking good for longer, is to stop it from tarnishing in the first place. Here are simple ways to stop tarnishing.

Store your jewellery in zip-lock plastic bags when you are not wearing it. If a piece of jewellery is only worn occasionally, this is a particularly effective way of maintaining its finish. Storing sterling silver, 9 ct and 14 ct gold jewellery this way is very important. It less important for 18 ct gold and Platinum.

Placing a LilyJewels Anti-Tarnish Tab in the bag or using specially treated LilyJewels Anti-Tarnish zip-lock bags, will decrease tarnishing for even longer periods of time.

Keep jewellery in a sealed LilyJewels Anti-Tarnish Bag.
Keep jewellery in a sealed LilyJewels Anti-Tarnish Bag.

Why jewellery tarnishes

Even though tarnish on sterling silver and lower alloy golds is often called oxidization, oxygen isn’t the main cause. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is really the reason these metals tarnish. The sulfides react with the small amount of copper alloyed in the metals. Our bodies produce small quantities of H2S, this is why it is important to wash jewellery before storing. It is important to dry the jewellery thoroughly too, as sulfides work more efficiently in a moist environment.

If you live in a hot humid climate, you should wash your jewellery regularly. Our perspiration contains not only H2S, but also fat and fatty acids. The fatty acids will cause corrosion of the metals they contact.

Tarnished sterling silver match box.
Tarnished sterling silver match box.

Jewellery worn in direct contact with the skin will over time accumulate deposits of body fats, cosmetics, dead skin and soap residues. Other build ups include food residues (flour dough, cooking oils, etc.), plant residues (sap from flowers and gardening) and general pollution from our environment. This is why it is important to wash your jewellery regularly.

Polish jewellery at the first signs of tarnish. If it is caught early then only light polishing will be necessary. If it is allowed to go longer a more aggressive polishing will be necessary.

Easy steps to prevent tarnishing

See also:

Why does jewellery sometimes leave black smudge marks on skin or clothing?