Do all precious metals tarnish?

Do all precious metals tarnish? - Dainty London

Whatever the size of your jewellery collection or the value of the pieces it contains, there’s one thing you’re certain to agree with – how you clean and maintain jewellery is vital.

Regular cleaning and maintenance ensure the jewellery pieces you love last for years to come, so you can keep on enjoying them for the long haul.

Tarnishing is one jewellery care problem so many wearers encounter, but with the right guidance, it’s easier than you think to prevent and rectify. Here we take a closer look at the tarnishing challenges we’ve all faced and how to overcome them.

Why do metals tarnish?

The lustrous, reflective look of jewellery is one of the main reasons why we choose to add certain pieces to our collections. Tarnishing is a natural process that can quickly dull this sparkle, but why do metals tarnish and corrode? We’ll let Answers to All explain why:

“In most cases, the metal reacts to an environmental factor, such as oxygen or moisture in the air. This creates a process known as electrochemical oxidation. A common example of electrochemical damage is rusting, which usually creates oxides and/or salts in the original metal.”

The oxidising reaction causes a thin film of corrosion to develop on the surface of certain metals. This causes the metal to become duller, discoloured and tarnished.

Do all metals tarnish?

As some metals have a higher point of oxidation than others, certain varieties are more susceptible to tarnishing.

Copper, brass, and bronze, are all particularly vulnerable to tarnishing and will need maintenance to prevent its dulling effects over time. The presence of other metals, such as copper, zinc and nickel, make the silver alloy of sterling silver tarnish more easily. 

Thankfully, the lustre of sterling silver can be restored with polishing rather easily. To rectify more serious tarnishing, a mix of baking soda and water will provide the perfect restorative treatment.

Without the right care or maintenance, gold plated, gold vermeil, fine silver and stainless steel can also tarnish over time. Thanks to their non-reactive status, gold, niobium, titanium, tungsten, platinum, palladium, cobalt and aluminium are all considered tarnish-resistant.

How can I prevent tarnishing?

Preventing your jewellery from becoming tarnished all comes down to good jewellery care and changing a few everyday habits. 

Whilst limiting exposure to tarnish-causing pollutants in the air is pretty much impossible, especially if you wear your jewellery pieces daily, removing your jewellery when you apply lotions, perfumes and other beauty products will keep tarnishing to a minimum.

The same goes when swimming, cleaning and working with any type of chemical. Chlorine and bleach in particular cause powerful reactions on certain metals.

To keep your jewellery as shiny as it was when you first bought it, treat your silver to a nice, hot, soapy bath and clean it with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Allow to air dry before polishing thoroughly with the jewellery polishing cloth provided by us to ward off that dulling tarnish and keep your jewellery sparkling.

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