Is there really such a thing as tarnish-resistant sterling silver jewelry?
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
In a word, yes!
Before I began a jewelry design career working with sterling silver I might have heard the term "tarnish-resistant silver" as just a marketing ploy. But, turns out, there are many different patents of sterling silver out in the world and it's easy to find and work with a few that are tarnish resistant. These days it is truly very easy to take care of your sterling silver jewelry.
I know this is a dry topic, so in a nutshell, there are many ways that sterling silver is manufactured and the patents are developed for these various purposes. To qualify as sterling silver, it is has to be sufficiently pure in fine silver — made up of 92.5% fine silver. Fine silver by itself won't tarnish quickly at all, but it's too soft for most applications. I do know jewelers who work in only fine silver but they often spend a lot of additional time polishing out dings that happen when pieces drop onto the ground. It happens! So, the addition of the alloys that make up the remaining 7.5% is important for added strength and hardness.
Traditional sterling typically adds copper but there are many other patents of sterling that include a mix of alloys such as germanium, zinc, tin, silicon and boron, which are a better match in color to the fine silver than copper is.
As I'm sure you know from experience, the tarnishing process is triggered by oxygen and moisture from the atmosphere, perspiration, perfume and deodorant sprays, etc. During this exposure, if you have a traditional sterling, it's the copper that rises to the surface, causing the yellow-brown patina which darkens over time if not cleaned. I use Argentium™ silver which includes a white alloy called germanium in place of copper. So, instead of copper rising the surface, germanium rises to the surface, delaying the tarnishing process.
Sterling silver will never be completely tarnish-proof but I am dedicated to helping you keep your jewelry happy and bright because I want you to wear it and feel confident that it's always looking like new. And it is so easy to do! I include a polishing cloth and cleaning instructions with every sale. So, never let the idea of tarnished silver come between you and a purchase of that beautiful piece of silver you've always wanted!