What Causes Jewelry to Tarnish?

Posted by Monica Barber on

Tarnish is a natural chemical reaction that occurs when certain metals, such as silver, brass, and copper, come into contact with elements in the air or on the skin. The most common cause of tarnish is oxidation, which is the reaction between the metal and oxygen in the air. When the metal reacts with oxygen, it forms a new compound on the surface of the jewelry, resulting in a dull, discolored appearance.

In addition to oxidation, other factors can also contribute to tarnish. Exposure to moisture, humidity, and chemicals like perfumes, lotions, and hairspray can accelerate tarnish formation. Perspiration, acidic skin pH, and even certain medications can also affect the rate at which jewelry tarnishes. Furthermore, jewelry made of alloys, which are metals mixed with other elements to improve their properties, may tarnish more easily due to the presence of different metals in the alloy.

How to Prevent Jewelry Tarnish?

While tarnish is a natural process, there are several steps you can take to prevent your jewelry from turning green and keep it looking its best:

Store Your Jewelry Properly: Proper storage is crucial in preventing tarnish. Keep your jewelry in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, moisture, and air exposure. Store each piece separately to prevent scratching and tangling, and consider using anti-tarnish strips or pouches to absorb moisture and slow down tarnish formation.

Clean Your Jewelry Regularly: Regular cleaning can help remove dirt, oils, and other contaminants that can accelerate tarnish formation. Use a soft cloth or a jewelry cleaning solution specifically formulated for the type of metal in your jewelry. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can scratch the metal and strip away its protective coating.

Wear Your Jewelry Last: If you're wearing multiple pieces of jewelry, put your metal jewelry on last. This helps minimize its exposure to sweat, lotions, and other chemicals that can tarnish it. By  Monica Barber offers high quality Jewelry pieces for you to enjoy. Why don’t you check our products?

Remove Jewelry Before Swimming or Showering: Avoid wearing jewelry when swimming or showering, as exposure to water, chlorine, and soap can speed up tarnish formation. If you do wear jewelry in water, be sure to dry it thoroughly afterward.

Limit Exposure to Chemicals: Avoid spraying perfumes, lotions, and hairspray directly on your jewelry, as these products can contain chemicals that can tarnish metals. Put on your jewelry after applying these products and avoid contact with household cleaners, harsh chemicals, and acidic foods that can tarnish jewelry.

Consider Protective Coatings: Some jewelers offer protective coatings, such as rhodium plating for silver jewelry, that can help slow down tarnish formation and prolong the life of your jewelry. However, these coatings may wear off over time and need to be reapplied.

Choose Jewelry Carefully: When purchasing jewelry, look for pieces made of higher-quality metals or those with a protective coating. Avoid jewelry that contains metals that are prone to tarnish or allergic reactions, such as low-quality brass or nickel.


Tarnish is a common issue that many jewelry wearers encounter, but it can be prevented with proper care

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