Why does jewelry tarnish


You enjoy wearing your favorite jewelry frequently when you suddenly notice the metal is discolored. This discoloration appears as well-worn metal, depleting the overall pristine look of the piece. What was once brand new and shiny now shows noticeable wear and tear. Why does jewelry oxidize?



Oxidation occurs when jewelry comes into contact with chemicals or moisture. These chemicals include perfumes, body lotions, oils, cosmetics, deodorants, body sprays, hairspray, household cleaning products, chlorine in pools, and other environmental substances. Sweat also contributes to the oxidation or tarnishing of the metal.


jewelry polish


Oxidation turns the metal completely black, splotchy, or spotty. This may occur in big areas of the piece, around the stone’s settings, on the clasp, or throughout the entire design. Oxidation may also be very eye-visible or in small areas.
It is very common for a lobster or spring ring clasp to oxidize over time. Clasps sit right on the back of the neck and are frequently exposed to all of the sweat and chemicals listed above.



All metals, with the exception of the precious metals such as gold, platinum, and palladium, will oxidize when exposed to oxygen and an electrolyte. Tarnishing or oxidation depends on the metal type and alloys. Here is a list of metals that are susceptible to oxidation:

  1. Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is synonymous with color and appearance change, appreciated for its illuminating, well-worn glow, called patina. Wearing your silver jewelry often will keep it looking fresh and shiny as it mingles with natural body oils.

All substances mentioned in this blog post contribute to the oxidation of silver. This oxidation can  turn the piece absolutely black. Not wearing your silver will actually increase oxidation as it sits over time.

tarnished silver jewelry
  1. Plated & Filled Jewelry

Plated jewelry is jewelry composed of a thin layer of metal coating on the top of a base metal such as sterling silver and alloy metals. Popular plating metals include 10k, 14k, or 18k gold in rose, yellow, or a white-metal toned rhodium (alloy) finish.

High-quality gold plated jewelry offers longevity because they feature a thicker layer of plated metals measured in microns. A micron level of 0.50 is standard in the jewelry industry for gold electroplating, a process when a thin layer of gold is bonded to the metal.

Vermeil is a term used for gold plated jewelry featuring a high-quality overlay over 925 sterling silver with 2.50 microns of plating.

Filled jewelry features a thinner coating of metal over the base metal. This thin layer wears away quickly over time, just like nail polish! Flaking and pitting, vermeil is short-lived in its beauty.

All of our jewelry and jewelry gold and rhodium plating services use high-quality finishes, ensuring your jewelry retains a rich, luscious shine.

  1. Copper and brass

Both are highly popular metals in jewelry. Copper and its alloys are prone to tarnish when exposed to air and moisture, taking on a blue-green patina over time. Pure copper, which is orange red in color, acquires a reddish tarnish. Copper is one of the main causes of tarnish in most jewelry metals because it’s widely used in a variety of alloys.

Care Tip: Plated and filled jewelry is prone to discoloration/tarnishing over time and must be treated with utmost care, extending its life. Putting on plated jewelry after cosmetics and perfume application will greatly reduce oxidation.



There are many liquid jewelry cleaners available for removing silver oxidation.

Care Tips for Silver: Aggregate minerals (turquoise, lapis, etc.), color-treated stones (mystic topaz, titanium quartz, etc.), and fracture-filled stones (diamonds, corundum) should not be submerged in this liquid due to its harshness, among other fragile stones. These liquids may cause perantly damage to the stones, drying them out, or removing the color and fracture treatments.

Professional jewelry cloths also work. Thoroughly rubbing your piece without pressuring the stones and settings will work.

Care Tips for Plated Jewelry: Plated jewelry may need to be replated over time. We offer an array of different fine jewelry plating services curated for your favorite pieces. Easily restore the beauty of your plated jewelry with a fresh coat of any color gold plating of your selection or high-shine rhodium. Replating your jewelry gives it a new face.

If the tips and guidance provided here haven't fully addressed your concerns or if you encounter any issues with your jewelry, we strongly recommend seeking professional help. Our team of experts at BY VIVE is always ready to assist you, ensuring your jewelry remains in the best possible condition. click here to learn more.

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