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Does Silver Plating Tarnish?

Updated April 17, 2017

Many women know the disappointment that hits when a favourite piece of jewellery loses its shine and grows dull. Jewellery and other silver plated items often tarnish over time, especially with consistent use.

Tarnishing

Silver plated items, from jewellery to products in industrial applications, will tarnish over time. When silver comes into prolonged contact with ozone, hydrogen sulphide or sulphur, it loses its lustre and begins to look dull and murky. Silver plated items tarnish just as easily as solid silver and sterling silver items.

Tarnishing Agents

Some agents speed up the tarnishing process. Perspiration, household chemicals, industrial chemicals, lotions, hairsprays and perfumes all have the potential to speed up the oxidation of silver plating. Wear from daily use can also rub off any protective anti-tarnishing coatings and further expose the silver.

Tarnish Prevention

Silver plated items need a protective coating in order to prevent long-term tarnishing. Several tarnish resistant coatings exist, including rhodium plating, a common coating for silver plated jewellery. Rhodium does not tarnish and has a shiny silver appearance that mimics polished silver. Rhodium, along with many other tarnish-resistant coatings, wears off if over-polished, however, so excessive polishing must be avoided.

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About the Author

Caitlynn Lowe has been writing since 2006 and has been a contributing writer for Huntington University's "Mnemosyne" and "Huntingtonian." Her writing has also been in "Ictus" and "Struggle Creek: A Novel Story." Lowe earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Huntington University.