Why Does Silver Go Black On My Skin?

Have you ever worn your favourite silver jewellery only to find that it has mysteriously started your skin an alarming tinge of black and green? If your skin starts to discolour, your first thought may be that your jewellery is cheap or not real silver, however, this is far from the truth. Even quality sterling silver that is stamped with the genuine 925 stamp can have this result. 

Tarnishing can happen to any piece of jewellery from silver rings, bracelets and necklaces to even earrings! It can be frustrating to find that your jewellery has started to tarnish, however, there are some easy steps that you can take to prevent it from happening, as well as ways to clean items that have started to blacken.

What is silver?

Pure silver is far too soft to be used in jewellery, therefore, it is alloyed with other materials that increase its durability and make it suitable for everyday wear. The most common material that is alloyed with silver is copper, which is prone to oxidation.

What is oxidation?

Oxidation is the process that causes metals to blacken over time, it is caused by a reaction to oxygen and sulphur. When your jewellery comes into contact with body oils, makeup, sulphur, perfumes, sweat, lotion and other external materials, it can cause it to tarnish. 

Tarnishing can look like anything from slightly dull in colour to totally black, depending on how old your jewellery is, how you wear it and how you care for it. While jewellery that is proper sterling silver is less likely to tarnish, it is still possible. This does not mean that your jewellery is cheap or of bad quality, it is simply a reaction that happens between metals and oils.

How to Prevent Oxidation

There are some precautionary measures that you can put in place to prevent your jewellery from tarnishing. The main two things to remember is to keep your silver jewellery clean and dry. Try and avoid contact with salt water or chlorine, and definitely do not wash your jewellery with either chemical! When you are storing sterling silver jewellery, be sure to leave it in a dark, dry place, separate from other metals. This way while you are not wearing your favourite pieces, they won’t be exposed to any damaging substances. 

How to Clean Tarnished Silver Jewellery

The best cleaning results happen when you clean your jewellery before it's visible to the human eye. For jewellery that you wear every day, it can be beneficial to give it a clean at least once a month to maintain its shiny lustre. In saying that, you can still clean visibly tarnished jewellery.

The easiest way to clean your silver jewellery is to wash your pieces in soapy water. Mix a few drops of mild dishwashing soap in warm water and gently wash the silver pieces using a microfibre cloth. Finally, rinse and buff dry with a soft cloth. In most cases, tarnished jewellery can be restored to its original state, however, you may lose some shine if the tarnish is excessive.

Hence, if your jewellery starts to turn black, there is no cause for alarm! It doesn’t mean that you have been tricked into buying less than quality, nor have you done anything wrong. It is simply a chemical reaction that occurs between metals and can usually be buffed away. 

Learn More About Silver:

You have successfully subscribed!

This email has been registered