Why Is My Sterling Silver Jewelry Black and Tarnishing?

We love the look and durability of our sterling silver jewelry, we love the price too!

But, the downside is that it can tarnish very quickly leaving ugly black, green or brownish pink streaks.

Jewelers love sterling silver because it’s easy to work with, it’s affordable, and can easily be made into memorable works of art.

Yet we’ve all had that moment when our neck has turned green or a black stain appeared on your ring finger. We aren’t alone. Sterling silver tarnishes and we buy it anyway because we love it and because we can often remedy the tarnishing issues.

To understand why your sterling silver jewelry tarnishes it’s important to understand what sterling silver is made of. Sterling silver is an alloy, that means that the silver is mixed with other metals. Our sterling silver is stamped with a genuine .925 stamp. This stamp ensures that the jewelry is a combination of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (or nickel or zinc or a combination thereof). Adding the copper makes for a much stronger metal because silver alone is too soft.

We can stop nature and in nature silver metal, when exposed to air will start to tarnish. Therefore, you should always store your sterling silver jewelry in an air-tight zipped baggie to prolong any tarnishing issues.

Once silver metal and air meet they create something called silver sulfate and this reaction is called oxidation. Oxidation is what causes your sterling silver jewelry to start to tarnish.

Did you know? Catholic Faith Store sterling silver jewelry is protected with a lacquer finish and some of our pieces are protected with a rhodium finish. This helps prevent tarnishing (but it doesn’t stop it completely).

Some people who are on medications that contain zinc can have a reaction to sterling silver and there are some cosmetics that will exacerbate the effects of tarnishing.

Here is a list of everyday things that have a negative reaction to sterling silver and can speed up tarnishing;

  • Humidity
  • Air Pollution
  • Ammonia
  • Chlorinated Water
  • Foods: Onions, Eggs and Salty Foods
  • Latex Gloves
  • Oils from your Hands and Fingers
  • Perfumes and Hair Sprays
  • Rubber Bands
  • Wool

We hope with a little more information on tarnishing you’ll understand that sterling silver jewelry by its nature will tarnish over time but with a little simple cleaning and proper storage it can last a lifetime.

For cleaning advice, read our article 5 Easy to Follow Steps for Cleaning Your Sterling Silver Jewelry.