Why does sterling silver tarnish?

Posted by Robin Van Avery on

Pure silver is highly tarnish resistant, but it is far too soft for use in everyday jewelry. Sterling silver has been the jewelry standard since the 14th century, it is an alloy (mix of metals) with a small amount of copper. This allows sterling silver to offer the luster we love, with durability needed for jewelry and other household goods.

Over time, any sterling silver jewelry exposed to air will tarnish. Comprised of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. It’s the other metals, typically copper, that make sterling silver tarnish. The copper reacts to moisture and sulfur in the air, causing the sterling silver tarnish. Silver tarnishes faster in areas with high humidity and air pollution. Chemicals like hairspray, perfume, deodorant, body lotion, bleach, etc., can speed up the tarnishing process.