What Is Tarnish

What is Tarnish?

Sunday moon jewellery is made from 925 Sterling Silver, or Stainless Steel (our waterproof edit!)  which is then plated with 14k or 18k Gold. Tarnish is an oxidisation of silver jewellery, that usually displays as a dull, grey, or black film coating over the jewellery. Silver tarnish is a form of corrosion, but unlike rust, it does not destroy the underlying metal. Because the tarnishing process only affects the top layers, the tarnished layer itself will ultimately protect the underlying silver. Tarnish develops as a chemical reaction with air-based components. As the reaction develops, the silver will change colour from a shiny, mirror bright surface, to a yellow sheen, to completely black, depending on how long the process is allowed to continue.

The Chemistry

Tarnish is a result of a chemical reaction between the silver and sulphur-containing substances in the air. The silver from your jewellery combines with sulphur and forms silver sulphide. Silver sulphide is black. When a thin coating of silver sulphide forms on the surface of silver, it darkens the silver. That’s what we call "tarnish".

Everyday Items Cause Tarnish

There is no way to completely protect your silver jewellery from tarnishing because silver reacts with so many different components found in our everyday life, in foods, fluids (tap water!), cosmetics and even clothing. For instance, tarnishing can be accelerated by any chlorine-containing item, acidic components or perfume and hairspray.

Wearing silver jewellery leaves oils from your skin to accumulate on the surface of the jewellery and can predispose it to oxidisation. Even the relatively mild chemicals in our sweat will accelerate the oxidisation, especially when supported by warmth and air.

Avoid Tarnish

As said, it is not possible to completely prevent the tarnishing process. The best way to deal with tarnish is slow the rate in which it develops. We advise you to wipe down your jewellery after use, as it slows down the process. See our Care Guide for more tips on protecting your jewellery from tarnish.