Sterling silver will tarnish. It is a fact of life. However, the presence of certain sulfur-rich substances will accelerate the tarnish reaction. Sulfur is a common substance and sulfate compounds are all around us in the air, water, soil and various solids. However, some items have particularly high sulfate levels. Avoid these seemingly innocent items in your studio space or near your jewelry box to maximize your silver shine.
- Beauty products – Hairsprays, shampoos, lotions and perfumes are all laden with sulfates. The airborne particulates or residue on your hands will tarnish silver. Do not store your silver in your bathroom or vanity area. Do not handle jewelry with make-up or lotion on your hands. And keep jewelry out of beauty and nail salons that are pungent with product fumes.
- Printed papers – Tissue paper, newspaper and many of those cute printed craft papers are often printed or dyed with acid based sulfur dyes. Yikes! Don’t package your jewelry with these seemingly innocuous fillers.
- Exhaust – Car, airplane and machine diesel exhaust are packed with sulfate particulates. Don’t store your metals in a garage or leave them in the trunk of your car.
- Rubber – This ubiquitous material is processed with sulfur and has a concentrated residue that accumulates on its surface. Rubber seals, rubber bands and some rubberized plastic solids will leach sulfur into the air.
- Leather – Popular leather cords & straps used in jewelry making are tanned, just like all leathers, using sulfur based acids. Store leather separately from your metals. Store leather necklaces with silver finding ends along with silver saver tabs to prevent blackening.
- Cellophane – That crinkly clear plastic used for food packaging, gift baskets and other applications is full of sulfur. This plastic is often used to make fold and seal baggies sold for retail packaging hang tags.
- Smoke – Fireplace smoke near your jewelry can be an issue. Make sure that chimney stays clear so smoke does not fill your home.
Read our past blogs on cleaning silver jewelry to maintain your sterling treasures. Please subscribe to our weekly blog today to receive posts by email!