The effects of chlorine on sterling silver

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The effects of chlorine on sterling silver
Sterling silver jewellery can lose its shine if it comes into contact with chlorine. (Henry Gan/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Sterling silver is a very popular product in the jewellery industry. Earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and rings are regularly made out of this eye-catching and highly reflective alloy. There is, however, a downside to sterling silver. When it is exposed to chlorine, a product that is part and parcel of our everyday lives, sterling silver can be severely damaged. Sometimes, that damage can be beyond repair.

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An attractive alloy

Sterling silver is an alloy. This means it is made up of two or more elements. Generally, sterling silver is comprised of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper. Sometimes, however, platinum or zinc are used in place of copper. The advantage that sterling silver has over regular silver is that it is much stronger and far more durable. Thus, when it comes to jewellery, which can sustain knocks and bumps on a regular basis, sterling silver-based items are likely to last longer than standard silver products.

Purification and pools

Chlorine is a chemical element that plays an integral role in the purification of water, whether for drinking or bathing. It is also a major component of various forms of disinfectant, bleach and dish-washing liquids. Public swimming pools typically contain chlorine, too. It is highly effective at killing the kinds of bacteria and germs that can thrive in such locations.

Chlorine causes problems

Chlorine can cause severe damage to items made from sterling silver. Whenever possible, steps should be taken to make sure that sterling silver-based products are kept away from any and all liquids containing chlorine. The primary damage is in the form of discolouration. This is caused by a reaction between the chlorine and the 7.5 percent copper component of sterling silver. The chlorine causes the copper to turn a black or brown colour. Chlorine can also cause pitting and cracking to occur in sterling silver-based products.

Avoiding chlorine

A number of powerful, over-the-counter jewellery cleaning products can be purchased and utilised to combat the effects of chlorine. Unfortunately, if exposure to chlorine has been extensive, the damage may be beyond repair. It is, therefore, wise to use commonsense to ensure that sterling silver items are not affected in the first place. Avoid wearing jewellery while taking a bath or showering. Don't wash dishes while wearing sterling silver-based jewellery. Never swim in a public swimming pool while wearing sterling silver.

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