7 Silver Tarnishing Culprits Lurking in Your Studio

Some common household items can rapidly accelerate silver tarnishing. See our list to make sure your studio is free of these seven items.

7 Silver Tarnishing Culprits Lurking In Your Studio

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 and remove tarnish. Please subscribe to our weekly blog today to receive posts by email!

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  • I am learning to my cost that gift boxes with foam inserts and black tissue paper are very detrimental to sterling silver and silver plated jewellery. Within days, items are arriving badly tarnished, having left me pristine. The gift boxes displaying items safely hanging in place and carefully covered with black tissue paper to keep them all in place were meant to make purchases look special and perfect for giving as presents. Oh dear, what a mistake I have made. Having done research on the problem now experienced, I am now putting items into airtight plastic bags, having expelled the air before closing, which also contains within an anti-tarnish tab. I am hoping this will slow down the natural process of tarnishing. The tissue paper comment I have read on your page was new info to me. I had continued using the tissue paper on top of the item enclosed in a plastic bag, but am now wondering if I should just abandon that completely. It would be a shame visually, but I have to stop the problems I have been experiencing. Abandoning the gift box too I would rather not do if at all possible as this little extra helps my items sell above others that don’t come packed up. Suggestions from anyone would be very much appreciated.

    • Hi Helen,

      It looks like you’re on the right path. You may want to check with your packaging vendor and make sure that the gift boxes are not made with acid based sulfur dyes. They should be able to let you know. I agree that gift boxes are essential to your branding so I wouldn’t abandon that. If it were me I’d place the items in small ziplock bags, with an anti-tarnish tab, seal it and then place that in a nice gift box. I would also insert a card to educate your customers on how to clean their jewelry. Here is another blog you may find interesting: https://blog.halsteadbead.com/2010/12/07/avoiding-tarnish-on-silver-jewelry-supplies/. One other thing you may consider is to wipe down your silver jewelry with treated brilliant cloths (https://www.halsteadbead.com/x705) just before packaging them. These cloths inhibit tarnish, which may help too. I hope this helps!

  • This article was so helpful! Thanks, so much, for sharing this info. One of my favorite artists that I buy from, uses leather with sterling silver. If it does tarnish, is it fixable? I could easily disassemble and reassemble these pieces to clean them, but how? Thank you!

    • Hi Carrie,

      The sterling silver will tarnish over time, but wiping the silver down with a polishing cloth will remove it. I wouldn’t disassemble it, just clean it carefully when the tarnishing does occur and then store it in an anti-tarnish bag or a ziplock bag with an anti-tarnish tab in it. That should be sufficient.

      Thanks for the question!

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