Does Sterling Silver Tarnish Like Copper?

That’s a good question! We work primarily in copper because we like the versatility of the metal. We use sterling sometimes and love to combine it with other metals…because they look pretty together.  Most people shy away from copper jewelry because it tarnishes but in retrospect it’s no different than sterling silver.

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper (source: Wikipedia).  Sterling tarnishes at a slower rate than copper but it tarnishes nevertheless. Like its counterpart copper, many things affect the rate of tarnish: water, sweat, perfumes, body chemistry, etc. In summary, yes, your sterling will tarnish over time.

We take several steps to ensure that copper and silver jewelry purchased from us stays beautiful for quite some time, however, just like with any other jewelry you must take care of it. Depending on the item we seal using Renaissance Wax, but we also use ProtectaClear and jewelers grade resin.

All these products provide an added layer of protection for metal from sweat, salt damage, tarnish, corrosion and oxidation.  Please keep in mind that even though we coat our products the sealant will not last forever; it will eventually wear off over the years and with use.

 

Here are some helpful tips on how to care for your copper jewelry (also, applies to silver)

  • Keep your copper jewelry clean
  • Store it in an airtight container or plastic bag away from heat and moisture; this will slow the tarnishing process down
  • Wipe regularly with a polishing cloth (available here) to prevent dirt build-up
  • When wearing perfume let it dry prior to putting your jewelry on
  • Avoid getting wet whenever possible

 

Copper tarnishes naturally, so if you purchase a bright piece of copper and don’t like the dark look you can use one of these methods to restore it.

  • Use table salt and vinegar - pour salt and vinegar over your jewelry and gently rub into the jewelry until any grime or tarnishing is removed. Rinse with water and polish with a soft, dry cloth.
  • Use salt and lemon - pour salt on half of a lemon and rub over jewelry, or pour salt and squeezed lemon juice onto jewelry and gently rub in. Rinse with water and polish with a soft, dry cloth.

For sterling silver, although I haven’t tried it I’ve heard that this simple solution is fabulous. Do use it for jewelry that has stones as it may damage them.

  1. Line a saucepan with aluminum foil. Add about 3 inches of water to the pan.
  2. Pour 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of table salt into the water. Stir gently with a spoon.
  3. Place the pan on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Add the sterling silver jewelry and allow it to boil for about 2 minutes. Be sure there's enough water in the pan to completely cover the silver pieces.
  4. Remove the jewelry from the water with tongs. Rinse under cool water and lay flat on a soft cloth. Wipe the jewelry with another soft cloth to remove the water and lay flat to air-dry completely.

We hope you’ve found this blog post informative. Please leave us a comment or suggestion for a post. We’d love to hear from you!