Why Does Silver Tarnish?

Why does silver tarnish - Jamie Santellano

Why does silver tarnish?

So the big question is, “Why does silver tarnish?” Sterling silver is an alloy. “What’s an alloy?” You might be thinking. An alloy is a combination of two or more metals such as fine silver and copper. When two or more metals are combined greater strength is achieved. Sterling silver is made of 92 1/2% (.925) silver and 7 1/2% (.075) copper.

Fine silver alone is very soft and not a good choice for making jewelry.  Sterling silver is a combination of fine silver and copper and makes a stronger metal to work with. Sterling silver (.925) is commercially used by craftsman to make jewelry and flatware. The copper in sterling silver reacts to moisture and sulfur in the air. Sulfur is like that rotten egg smell and one of many reasons why sterling silver turns black.

The tarnish that occurs on the surface of sterling silver is a thin layer of corrosion. The corrosion seals and protects the silver underneath, which can be polished off of the surface of your jewelry with simple aids such as a jewelry polishing cloth.

Does sterling silver rust?

Some think that the reason sterling silver turns black is that it rusts. This is a common misunderstanding. Sterling silver doesn’t rust and is a non-ferrous metal, which means there is no iron within it. Rust eats through metal whereas tarnish only coats the surface.

Click here to learn step-by-step how to make your own polishing cloth and how to polish your sterling silver jewelry.

Why Does Silver Tarnish? - Jamie Santellano

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