Does Sterling Silver Tarnish – And Tips To Prevent It From Tarnishing

For most buyers, this is a typical question to ask as they want only to buy the best.

However, while you want us to say no, the truth is that sterling silver will tarnish over time. Now be informed that pure silver never tarnishes. But you will never find pure silver-made jewels because it’s too soft to stay in shape.

As you know, the silver that makes jewels comprises an alloy of other metals to make it manageable. It has other metals like copper mixed in, and this is why you will have it tarnish over time.

Does Sterling Silver Tarnish

Albeit tarnishing doesn’t mean that the silver is of poor quality. Both the high quality and poor quality silver tarnish but at different rates.

Since sterling silver has an overpowering percentage of silver, then it will tarnish but at a slower rate. It’s in the category of the most precious metals and thus jewels.

Related article: Jewelry Metals That Don’T Tarnish

Why does it tarnish?

First off, expect the silver to tarnish to dark grey, brown, or sometimes black. Silver reacts with the elements in the air. But if you have the authentic silver, it’s okay since you can wipe the tarnish out.

However, if you have plated silver, sorry tarnishing means permanent damage.

What does tarnished silver look like

Don’t get me wrong though the plated silver works, and even I have used it in the past. But it’s just not as reliable as the best quality type of sterling silver.

I wish for you to know that the pure silver content in sterling silver never tarnishes. But the copper added to the mix will react with the air sulfur and tarnish.


If your metal starts to deteriorate, then it will cause tarnishing. Remember that corrosion may occur when you subject the jewel to a humid and wet environment. If you are going to wear the ornament and keep sweating, you make room for corrosion.

Sterling Silver 2

Human sweat has salt, and that also causes corrosion. It’s further advisable to remove the jewels if you are going for a swim in the ocean.

The metallic abrasion

We like to use makeup, and that’s good, but sadly, the chemicals will tarnish our jewelry if we don’t clean them. You may have chemicals like zinc oxide in the cosmetic that react with silver and copper to form a tarnish.

The best way to go about it is to wear the makeup first and then the jewelry once you finish everything. This will keep the sterling silver safe.

Other chemical compounds

Daily we don’t go find out what our cleaning solutions are made of. Sadly, if they have acids, they will react with the silver to form a tarnish. It may even be hard to protect the silver from coming to contact with natural gases, but you should keep it safe.

How do you keep it

If you aren’t going to wear the silverware, keep it in simple clothe and in a zip-lock bag to secure it from too much air exposure. This will reduce the tendency to oxidize and thus cause tarnish.

The quality

Although the sterling silver will eventually tarnish too, the quality you buy matters. If you buy the plated silver or the piece with a low percentage of silver, expect it to tarnish sooner.

Does the silver have a timeline for when you expect it to start tarnishing?

I would say it’s hard for me to tell you the exact time it will start to tarnish. It may depend on several factors but mainly the care you give it.

If you go with it to swim or expose it to sulfur, it will tarnish sooner than if you keep it safe. So you can prolong the time when it starts to tarnish if you take care of it.

How to prevent the silver from tarnishing?

No to moisture

You may sometimes forget to remove the jewels like when you go to a shower. Note that if you do this often, then you will soon damage the piece. When you buy sterling pieces, you should know that moisture is the enemy.

Sterling Silver 4

The worst to do is to level the jewel in the bathroom. You can’t have it in the bathroom and not be affected by moisture and humidity. Basically, make sure you remove your best ornament every time you are going to a water body. If you keep using it in water, then it won’t be long until the silver starts to tarnish.

Keep your silverware from solutions.

If you get the silver to a salty or chemical solution, then it will most definitely start to tarnish. The prevention in such a case is to make sure you keep the jewel off the water.

Also, avoid any chemical solution in the house since you don’t know the chemical composition.

What are your environments like?

The essence of this is finding out if you use chemical solutions throughout your day or are in a toxic scene. You want to avoid possible damage. So if you use chemicals and you expose it to sulfur, then it will tarnish soon.

Also, if you live in a polluted environment, then the silver will tarnish sooner.

Well, your body may be the cause.

If you sweat a lot, then you may have the right environment for tarnishing. So then there are some absorbent powders you can use to keep the sweat at bay. Alternatively, don’t use the ornaments when you are going out to the gym.

The storage

When you aren’t wearing the jewels, therefore you should keep them right if you want them to serve you longer.

Quit throwing your jewelry on the nightstand or drawers will lead to silver oxidation. Keep it in a cool and dark environment, not anywhere there’s direct sunlight.

For even more safety, you should place it in the zip lock bag. This will try to keep the air out of the bag.

Wipe it

Don’t wait for it to tarnish before you can wipe it; instead, keep cleaning it once you have worn it to get rid of the sweat or other impurities. This will help get rid of the invisible tarnish that may already be forming.

When you first notice a tarnish just clean it

You may notice the tarnish when it’s just starting to form. You, therefore, should clean it first.

  • So take a jar with warm water and pour in a few drops of dish soap to make sure you are using a mild detergent.
  • Place the jewel in the jar and start to wash it gently as this will remove the tarnish.
  • If you have a cotton swab, then you can use it to clean the corners and other parts of the jewel.
  • If you have a soft brush, then you can use it to clean the tarnish from the parts that you can’t remove by hand.
  • Then remove it from the jar and wipe it with a soft cloth. Give it time to air dry before you can return it to its zip-lock storage.

This is a simple method though it will safely remove all the tarnish.

Wear it frequently

I know this is your treasure piece, but it’s okay to wear it frequently, as this will let you know when the tarnish starts to form.

Sterling Silver 1

You won’t damage it by wearing it as long as you keep it clean and wipe it off every time you wear it. Remember, to remove it before you go to bed, though.

Remember to put it on last then remove it first.

Of course, if you are the busy type, then you probably go out every day. With that said, you should only wear it after you are done with all the makeup you need. Now when you come back home, it’s the first thing you should remove before you go to the bathroom.

Caring for the sterling silver

The sterling silver will tarnish, but if you take care of it, you may reduce the tarnishing possibilities. We have discussed several ways to care for it, so we are just going to mention them here.

Remember to keep it clean at all times, and if possible, anytime you remove it, then you should wipe it out.

Polish the ornament. The secret to keeping it from tarnishing is in polishing it. You can take it to your jeweler to do this for you, or you can do it yourself if you know how to do it.

Store it right. Remember, even in storage, if you aren’t careful, it will still keep tarnishing. Have a zip lock bag where you can keep the jewel.

So then, does sterling silver tarnish?

Yes, it does, but you can prevent it if you use the methods we discuss above. Once you are sure you bought the authentic piece, you can follow the procedures above to make sure you have it last longer.

Should you stop buying the silver just because it tarnishes? No, because as you would expect, every metal you choose to use has a lifespan, which is one of the best choices in the market.

Leave a Comment