11 Simple Ways to Prevent and Remove Tarnish From Jewelry


You wear your favourite pair of gold studs everyday, be it school, work, or dates. 

They are fun, versatile and pairs well with everything, and you love them because of that.

Until they start to lose colour... 

Then you toss them into the bottom of your jewelry box, or worse yet, the trash bin. 

The loss of colour is actually from a chemical reaction called “tarnish”.  

Tarnishing is a natural and inevitable chemical process that occurs naturally when metals come into contact and react with the elements like air and moisture.  

It is a perfectly normal occurrence. 

With proper care and cleaning, this process can actually be reversed. Those gold studs you were planning on getting rid of can look sparkling new again and relive its former days of glory. 

What Is Tarnish?

Tarnish is a thin film of corrosion found on metal. 

Tarnish can be seen on your jewelry as a dark discolouration which causes jewelry to lose its shine and appear brassy or old.

In some severe cases of tarnishing, your jewelry may look like it has “rusted” (which is actually the incorrect term - we will explore this in more detail later).

Why Does Jewelry Tarnish?

Tarnish occurs when the metal is exposed to certain types of elements like oxygen, water and moisture.  

Air

Sulphur is naturally-occurring in the air. Your jewelry goes through a process called oxidization when it reacts to oxygen and sulphur.

Even when stored away in a jewelry box, your pieces may still tarnish. This is because it is still in contact with oxygen. 

Storing your jewelry away in a storage box or a jewelry organizer will still cause tarnishing to occur, but it will be at a much slower rate than if you had it sitting on your desk.

Water and Moisture

Limited exposure to water for cleaning purposes, followed by immediate drying with a cloth is actually recommended for your sterling silver jewelry. 

Water, by itself, is not what causes tarnishing in your jewelry, but it is the chemicals found in the water. 

Salt content in seawater or chlorine in pool and hot tubs will accelerate the rate of tarnishing. 

Even trace amounts of water in the air will cause tarnishing to occur. You may want to rethink storing your jewelry on a stand unprotected in your bathroom beside the sink.  

Chemicals

Harsh cleaning agents and pH from creams and hair products can cause a reaction to your jewelry. Even the pH from your sweat can increase the effects of tarnishing. 

The delicacy of your sterling silver or plated jewelry means you should remove your jewelry before vigorous exercise and showering or swimming.

We also recommend removing your jewelry when you’re sleeping. You increase your chances of damaging and breaking your jewelry from snagging on your sheets or hair.  

Is Tarnish the Same as Rust?

Some people use tarnish and rust interchangeably to mean the same thing. 

But they are different.

Tarnish is seen on metals like copper, brass and silver, to name a few. The silver lining to tarnish is that it is 100% reversible. By storing your jewelry safely in an optimal environment and caring for them properly, you can minimize the effects of tarnish. 

On the other hand, rust (also known as iron oxide) is seen on iron and steel (an alloy of iron). Unfortunately, once something is rusted, it cannot be reversed, although there are ways to stop any more rusting from happening. 

Can Fine Jewelry Tarnish?

Any type of jewelry that aren’t made of 100% pure gold (24K) and fine silver (100% silver) will tarnish. 

Silver and gold in its purest form are highly malleable and too soft for practical use in jewelry. 

Therefore, other metals are introduced into the composition to give it strength and durability.

The most widely-used gold alloy is between 9K and 18K, rather than pure 24K gold. 

Silver alloy used in jewelry is often 925 silver or sterling silver. 

For example, fine silver jewelry, also referred to as 925 silver, is composed of 92.5% silver. The remaining 7.5% is made up of other trace metal alloys to give the silver its rigidity. 

It is generally the other metals mixed into the gold or silver composition that reacts with the elements to cause tarnish. 

Fine gold jewelry made up of 9K, 12K, or 18K and sterling silver may tarnish.

Does Tarnish Damage My Jewelry?

Tarnish does not affect the underlying metal. 

Think about it as a layer of “dust” that accumulates over the jewelry. Unlike dust though, it needs a bit more than a wet cloth to clean off. 

Here are 11 simple methods to slow down the tarnishing in jewelry and removing it if it does happen.

How Do I Remove Tarnish and Prevent It From Happening to My Jewelry?

Unfortunately, because tarnishing is an inevitable process, it cannot be stopped completely. 

However, with proper care for your jewelry, the process of tarnishing can be slowed to a great extent. 

#1 Silver Polishing Clothes

If your jewelry is not too heavily stained with tarnish, you can gently rub it off with a silver cleaning cloth.

This polishing cloth is permeated with a special anti-tarnish agent. You will immediately see a difference in the colour of your jewelry. 

Why We Love This: 

  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive and affordable method
  • Clothes can last a few months with everyday usage

#2 Anti-Tarnish Paper

These special anti-tarnish paper slow down tarnish by absorbing the pollutants in the air that would otherwise tarnish your jewelry. 

Why We Love This:

  • It does a good job minimizing tarnish
  • Anti-tarnish papers can be cut up to fit your jewelry box or organizer 

#3 Soak in Warm Soapy Water

A simple DIY solution of warm water with mild dish soap, combine the two components together until foamy.

Let tarnished jewelry soak in this mixture for up to 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the piece by soaking it in a second tub of clean water for a few minutes to rinse.

Using a small brush, gently scrub until tarnish is removed. 

Why We Love This:

  • Easy DIY solution that can be done with household items
  • Removes light to heavily tarnished pieces

#4 DIY Vinegar Solution

If the warm soapy water solution did not completely remove all the tarnish on your piece, try out this DIY vinegar solution, but only if there are no stones or other embellishments:

Ingredients:

500mL water
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Wrap the inside of a small bowl with aluminum with the shiny side facing up.
  2. Combine the ingredients together and wait for it to dissolve.
  3. Place your jewelry into the bowl, fully immersing it into the solution.
  4. Depending on the amount of tarnish, leave the jewelry into the solution for about 5 to 10 minutes.   
  5. Remove your jewelry from the solution, rinse, and pat dry.

Why We Love This:

  • Another easy DIY solution that doesn’t take much time to complete
  • Removes light to heavily tarnished pieces

#5 Silver Dip

For jewelry that is a more heavily tarnished, you can get a silver dip solution that comes with a small tub and basket.

With the fitted basket, immerse your jewelry in this solution.

Leave your jewelry inside for a few minutes to dissolve the tarnish.

However, this method is not recommended with soft stones such as pearls, as they can be discoloured.

Why We Love This:

  • Cleans effectively regardless of amount of tarnish

#6 Jewelry Ultrasonic Cleaner

This is a great option for people with a large jewelry collection or hobbyists.

This little machine is the size of a small pot and can fit many things other than jewelry, such as watch straps.

The gentle but powerful pulsing waves will remove both tarnish and dirt, which is great for preventing hard-to-remove build-ups.  

Why We Love This:

  • Simple press of a button will have your jewelry regain its shine as if it was brand new
  • Can clean many jewelry pieces at the same time

#7 Use Your Jewelry

The easiest method to minimize tarnish on your jewelry is actually to use it often.

Jewelry that is constantly being worn is always in contact with your skin and clothes.

Therefore, effectively reducing it from potential buildup; unlike jewelry that is sitting pretty in your jewelry box which makes it the perfect breeding ground for tarnish. 

Why We Love This:

  • What method is easier than doing nothing but using your jewelry? 

#8 Refrain Exposure to the Elements

Tarnish occurs at varying speeds depending on where it is stored. 

Constant exposure to air, water and moisture will cause your sterling silver jewelry to tarnish even faster.  

When not in use, store your sterling silver jewelry in a dark place away from the sun and heat.

Each W&W purchase comes with a protective box or cloth pouch. Storing your jewelry in a protective environment will prolong the life of your silver jewelry.

Why We Love This:

  • Effectively minimizes the rate of tarnishing, all you have to do is store it properly.

#9 Clean Regularly

Cleaning regularly will prevent build-up from accumulating.

Build-ups are stubborn and can be hard to remove.

Harsh removal methods can potentially damage the jewelry piece. 

Why We Love This:

  • Yes, it’s tedious. We know. But what is better than light cleaning every once in awhile than hard to remove stains? 

#10 Proper Care

Caring for your jewelry properly will significantly reduce the rate of oxidization. 

Here’s a quick list of things you should and shouldn’t do with your jewelry: 

  1. Remove your jewelry before any water-related activities, such as bathing or swimming.
  2. Remove your jewelry before vigorous exercise - the pH in your sweat can react negatively to your jewelry.
  3. Store in a dark and dry environment when not in use

Why We Love This:

  • Getting into a good habit of caring for your jewelry will help you prolong the life of all your jewelry pieces and keep them looking new. 

#11 Vacuum Seal

Some people swear by vacuum sealing their jewelry as this will prevent their prized pieces from being exposed to the atmosphere and therefore tarnishing.  

Why We Love This:

  • This is such a creative way to limit your jewelry’s exposure to oxygen. If you don’t have a vacuum seal machine, try using a vacuum seal bag or box.

Conclusion

Whether you are in the market for a new sterling silver pendant necklace or some new gold studs, check out our high quality and affordable minimalist jewelry. We're sure you'll find something that you'll love!

 

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