Does sterling silver tarnish?

Does sterling silver tarnish? Yes, it can. Sterling silver is composed of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent other metal alloys. When other metals, particularly copper, interact with Moisture in the air, they can cause the sterling silver to tarnish.

Does sterling silver tarnish?

What is sterling silver?

:small_blue_diamond: Real silver, or silver with a purity close to 99.9%, is too soft to be used as jewelry. Silver is strengthened by combining it with copper, and sometimes zinc or nickel, to make it stronger and more durable. This silver alloy is known as sterling silver, and it is generally 92.5 percent pure.

:small_blue_diamond: Coin silver and silver plating are two other types of silver. Coin silver is another composite alloy that is typically less than 90% pure.

:small_blue_diamond: Silver plating is a sterling silver coating applied to a less valuable metal. The sterling silver coating will eventually wear away and look less desirable with silver plating.

:small_blue_diamond: The term sterling silver most likely refers to a silver coin first minted by Britain’s King Henry II due to its consistent value and durability. The coins, which were 92.5 percent pure, were dubbed “Easterling coins.” The name was quickly shortened from Easterling to simply sterling.

:small_blue_diamond: Today’s top silversmiths work in sterling silver, following in the footsteps of icons such as Charles Lewis Tiffany and Sotirios Bulgaria.

:small_blue_diamond: To tell if a piece of jewelry is sterling silver, it will be stamped with “925,” a reference to the purity rating of the silver.

Mechanical Properties of Sterling Sliver

Property Value in metric unit Value in US unit
Density 10.37 *10³ kg/m³ 5.47 Troy oz/in³
Thermal expansion (20 °C) 1.9*10 1.06*10 5 in/(in* °F)
Specific heat capacity 245 J/(kg*K) 0.0585 BTU/(Ib*OF)
Electrical conductivity (IACS) 96 % 96 %
Tensile strength (annealed) 207 MPa 30000 psi
Yield strength (annealed) 124 MPa 18000 psi
Elongation (annealed) 41 % 41 %
Tensile strength (wire, annealed) 283 MPa 41000 psi
Elongation (wire, annealed) 40 % 40 %
Hardness (wire, annealed) 71 HV 71 HV
Tensile strength (wire, 1/2 hard) 386 MPa 56000 psi
Hardness (wire, 1/2 hard) 95 HV 95 HV
Tensile strength (wire, full hard) 496 MPa 72000 psi
Hardness (wire, full hard) 123 HV 123 HV
Tensile strength (wire, spring hard) 552 MPa 80000 psi
Hardness (wire, spring hard) 140 HV 140 HV
Liquidus temperature 788 oc 1450 OF
Solidus temperature 891 oc 1635 OF

What is tarnishing?

:small_blue_diamond: When metals are exposed to air, they undergo a chemical process known as oxidation. This oxidation can result in various effects, ranging from rust on steel to tarnish on silver.

:small_blue_diamond: The silver alloy combines with latent sulfur in the air caused by natural organic decomposition and environmental factors such as volcanic eruptions and pollution. Black silver sulfide is formed by the chemical reaction of silver and sulfur.

:small_blue_diamond: Tarnish is thus a thin film of silver sulfide on your sterling silver. For example, on a large sterling silver platter, this tarnish can appear as a brown patina over the serving vessel. Tarnish can appear as spots of discoloration on the face or chain of a silver locket.

Tips to prevent sterling silver from tarnishing

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to reduce the amount of tarnishing that occurs when you wear sterling silver jewelry.

Store your sterling silver jewelry properly

:small_blue_diamond: The first thing you should do to keep your sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing is to store it properly when not in use.

:small_blue_diamond: When they aren’t wearing their jewelry, far too many people will place it on their nightstand or dresser. This is not the proper method for storing it safely.

:small_blue_diamond: When you are not wearing your sterling silver jewelry, store it in a cool, dark place in your home. It should be kept out of direct sunlight, moisture, and heat.

:small_blue_diamond: Consider placing each piece of sterling silver jewelry in its plastic bag and removing the air from the bag. This will keep it from coming into contact with contaminants that could tarnish it.

:small_blue_diamond: You might even want to invest in anti-tarnish paper strips to store with your sterling silver jewelry. You shouldn’t have to worry about your jewelry tarnishing as a result of this.

Keep it away from Moisture

:small_blue_diamond: It’s not the end of the world if you accidentally wear your sterling silver jewelry into the shower one day or if you forget you’re wearing sterling silver jewelry and jump into a pool.

:small_blue_diamond: On the other hand, Moisture is one of the factors that almost guarantees your sterling silver jewelry will tarnish. As a result, you must keep it away from moisture at all costs.

:small_blue_diamond: Never leave sterling silver jewelry in the bathroom where it can be exposed to humidity and moisture from a shower. Limit the number of times you wear sterling silver jewelry into a pool, hot tub, or other body of water.

:small_blue_diamond: You want to avoid exposing your sterling silver jewelry to water unnecessarily at any time. Moisture is one of sterling silver’s worst enemies, and if you keep it near water, you won’t be asking, “Does sterling silver tarnish?” for long. In no time, you’ll be able to see the tarnish form for yourself.

Wipe it off after wearing it

:small_blue_diamond: You should return your sterling silver jewelry to its proper storage every time you remove it. But first, take a soft dry cloth and wipe down the surface.

:small_blue_diamond: You don’t have to go crazy inspecting every ■■■■ and cranny of your sterling silver jewelry, especially if there are no visible signs of tarnish. However, by wiping down your jewelry, you will remove anything that may cause problems in the future.

Clean it at the first sign of tarnish

:small_blue_diamond: You can expect a small amount of tarnish to form on your sterling silver jewelry at some point. Don’t be concerned.

:small_blue_diamond: If wiping your jewelry with a cloth does not remove it, there are a few steps you can take to clean sterling silver. To make your sterling silver jewelry sparkle, follow these steps:

  • Fill a cup halfway with warm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing soap.

  • Place your sterling silver jewelry in the cup and gently handwash it to remove tarnish.

  • To clean out tight corners, use a cotton swab to get deep into them.

  • Use a baby toothbrush to remove any tarnish that you can’t get rid of by hand.

  • Remove your sterling silver jewelry from the cup, wipe it down, and let it air dry before putting it back into storage.

:small_blue_diamond: You should be able to safely remove all of the tarnish from your sterling silver jewelry if you follow these steps and don’t allow any moisture to build upon it before storing it.

Keep harsh chemicals away from it

:small_blue_diamond: Some people will advise sterling silver jewelry collectors to clean their jewelry with bizarre concoctions. Some people, for example, swear by using toothpaste and baking soda to clean their jewelry.

:small_blue_diamond: You are free to do whatever you want. However, in most cases, these items will scratch the surface of a piece of jewelry.

:small_blue_diamond: Other harsh chemicals, such as bleach and acetone, are also used to clean sterling silver jewelry. They can wear away the surface of silver, making it appear dull over time. They should never be used to clean jewelry.

Wear it regularly

:small_blue_diamond: After reading all of these tips, you might be tempted to put your sterling silver jewelry in storage and never wear it again. But that is the absolute last thing you should do.

:small_blue_diamond: If you want to keep your sterling silver jewelry looking its best, the best way to do so is to wear it all the time. As long as you wipe it down after you’ve finished wearing it, it should look brand new at all times and last indefinitely.

Look for Rhodium finished sterling silver.

:small_blue_diamond: Rhodium is a platinum family metal that gives white gold its white appearance and has also become a popular plating option for sterling silver.

:small_blue_diamond: High-end sterling silver jewelry from Italy is frequently finished with a thick layer of Rhodium on top of the sterling silver. This eliminates tarnishing and creates a look that is virtually indistinguishable from white gold.


Keep in a cool, dark place: as previously stated, sunlight, heat, and Moisture hasten to tarnish. Always store your silver in a cool, dark place. Store your pieces separately: storing your pieces separately eliminates the possibility of jewelry scratching or tangling with one another.

How long does it take for sterling silver to tarnish?

:small_blue_diamond: That is conditional. As previously stated, the amount of time it takes for the tarnish to form is determined by the amount of time the sterling silver piece is exposed to air.

:small_blue_diamond: Natural oils in the skin can also help accelerate oxidation.

:small_blue_diamond: Sterling silver may take several years to tarnish in a controlled environment. Or, if the piece is constantly worn without any preventative measures, it may only take a few months for the tarnish to appear.

How to clean sterling silver?

:small_blue_diamond: Preventing tarnishing in sterling silver is a simple process that only takes a few seconds or minutes.

:small_blue_diamond: The best way to keep your sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing is to clean it after wearing it. This will remove any accumulated dirt or natural oils and prevent the chemical process of oxidation.

:small_blue_diamond: To clean your sterling silver, use warm water, a soft cloth, and then dry. You can even wash your sterling silver in the shower, as long as you dry it afterward.

:small_blue_diamond: Wearing your sterling silver in the shower is not the same as swimming in it. The chlorine, like your body’s natural oils, has the potential to accelerate oxidation and tarnish.

:small_blue_diamond: Another way to keep tarnish at bay is to store your jewelry in an airtight jewelry box. Chemicals that remain dormant during the oxidation of air-fuel. So, by limiting your exposure to air, you can reduce oxidation.

:small_blue_diamond: Another way to reduce tarnish is to keep a tarnish tab in your jewelry box. These paper strips assist in drawing sulfur and Moisture from the air and away from your sterling silver jewelry. They are available in various styles, and the length of time they are effective varies depending on the manufacturer.

Removing Tarnish

:small_blue_diamond: If you already have tarnish spots on your sterling silver, you have a couple of options for removing the blemishes, depending on the extent of the oxidation.

:small_blue_diamond: Light tarnish or spotting can be removed by scrubbing with a specially coated anti-tarnish cloth. However, don’t overuse the tarnish cloth because it can sometimes dull the luster of your jewelry.

:small_blue_diamond: A toothbrush and a light baking soda and water mixture can also be used to remove light tarnishing. Scrub gently with the toothbrush and solution, then thoroughly dry.

:small_blue_diamond: An over-the-counter tarnish remover is probably required for severe tarnishing and discoloration. A search for “silver cleaner” or “silver dip” will yield a variety of results. Wright’s Silver Cleaner and Polish Cream is a popular product.

Sterling silver is right for you

:small_blue_diamond: Sterling silver is a perennial favorite among consumers and jewelers due to its strength, malleability, and plethora of designs.

:small_blue_diamond: Perhaps more importantly, sterling silver is a low-cost precious metal with a timeless quality. Many of the pieces are one-of-a-kind and make a statement about the wearer’s focus and brand.

:small_blue_diamond: Nobody will ask you, “How long does it take for sterling silver to tarnish?” if you’re wearing the right piece.

:small_blue_diamond: Particularly when proper and simple care is demonstrated, which can be as simple as an airtight jewelry box, a readily available cleaner, or a simple washing.


Make a paste and combine two baking soda and one part water, gently rub the mixture onto the jewelry. Allow the paste to dry completely before removing the tarnish. Using a soft cloth or microfiber towel, rinse and dry the dish. You can also similarly use cornstarch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are some frequently asked questions related to does sterling silver tarnish.

1. Can I wear sterling silver in the shower?

Though showering with sterling silver jewelry should not harm the metal, it may cause tarnishing. Waters containing chlorine, salts, or harsh chemicals will degrade the appearance of your sterling silver. We advise our customers to take off their sterling silver jewelry before showering.

2. How long does sterling silver last?

Even though sterling silver has an average lifespan of 20 years, there are ways to extend its longevity to several generations.

3. Can sterling silver be worn every day?

Wearing sterling silver daily is permissible, but it must be done with caution. Regular wear prevents ■■■■■■■■■ tarnishing only if you do not wear it while participating in several activities. Remember to stay away from Moisture, open-air, and chemicals if at all possible.

4. Is it OK for sterling silver to get wet?

The short answer is yes (as long as you know it’s sterling silver). Water, in general, does not damage sterling silver; however, water causes silver to oxidize (darken) more quickly, and the type of water and chemicals in it impact how much your silver will change color.

5. Can I wear a sterling silver necklace all the time?

If you want to keep your sterling silver jewelry looking its best, the best way to do so is to wear it all the time. As long as you wipe it down after you’ve finished wearing it, it should look brand new at all times and last indefinitely.

6. Does sterling silver turn black?

925 Sterling Silver darkens as a result of daily use and other factors. If it is acidic, there is a greater chance that the silver will turn black. That explains why your jewelry tarnishes faster than other people’s jewelry.

7. How often should I clean my sterling silver necklace?

Silver should be polished once a year to keep it in good condition. If once a year isn’t enough to satisfy your cleaning compulsion, a simple way to keep your silver gleaming is to wash it with plain old water. You can do this as many as 2-6 times per year without risk.

8. Can you wash your hands with sterling silver rings?

Sterling silver jewelry can last a lifetime, but it must be cared for to stay in good condition. Lather your hands in soap and water before gently washing your jewelry. Then, using the soft cloth, dry your jewelry and allow it to air dry before placing it back in the airtight bag.

9. Which is better, sterling silver or white gold?

Because sterling silver is less durable than white gold, most people prefer it for everyday wear items such as their wedding band. White gold is more durable and is likely a better choice for jewelry worn daily to ensure minimal damage to the piece.

10. Why did my silver chain turn black?

Silver turns black due to the presence of hydrogen sulfide (sulfur) in the air. When silver comes into contact with it, a chemical reaction occurs, resulting in a black layer. The oxidation of silver jewelry indicates that it is genuine silver. Other (noble) metals oxidize differently.


:small_blue_diamond: Sterling silver is made up of 92.5 percent silver, and the rest is copper. This is why sterling silver is commonly referred to as “925 Sterling Silver” or simply “925 Silver.” Because pure silver, which is soft and malleable, makes it challenging to create incredible designs, it must be combined with other metals.

:small_blue_diamond: Other metals, such as copper or brass, must be added to provide some hardness. As a result, jewelers can create intricate and complex designs using 925 sterling silver.

:small_blue_diamond: In a pure oxygen environment, pure silver does not tarnish. The copper in 925 sterling silver, on the other hand, may react with ozone and hydrogen sulfide in the air, causing sterling silver to tarnish. Perfumes, hair sprays, and excessive sweating can all hasten the formation of tarnish.

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