Metal Discolouration

Preventing silver turning black

Many things can turn silver black:

  • Hand creams and some perfumes can react with silver.
  • Acidic skin – people who seem to have a high meat diet often can turn silver black.
  • Working in an atmosphere which has more sulphur in it (general pollution in the atmosphere).
  • A tight fitting ring can make the finger under the ring surface sweat a bit – this can happen especially with wide band rings in warm  weather.
  • It may have been polished beforehand and still have some residue of the polishing agent on the item.

Black marks can be removed quite easily. Try a silver cloth first although this is more for light tarnish and dirt. Otherwise jewellery cleaner. If the above doesn’t help then the item can be rhodium plated which gives the metal a shiny silver finish. Rhodium plating is quite common (most white gold is rhodium plated and sometimes silver items) and will form a barrier between the skin and the silver. This will have to be done at least once every 1 – 2 years depending on how often the item is worn.


Miscellaneous tips:

  • When jewellery is not worn, keep it in a box with a piece of aluminium foil as this will react instead of the silver.
  • Never leave silver jewellery in a box containing copper coins – the silver goes a horrible colour and is a nightmare to clean
  • Do not wear silver jewellery in a swimming pool – chlorine will react with the silver and it may eventually need a professional polishing.  If you do forget, as soon as possible make sure you thoroughly wash your jewellery in lots of warm soapy water and rinse it well in        clean water. Always make sure that the jewellery is dried using a soft cloth otherwise you can get watermarks on the surface.
  • If your silver hasn’t got any set stones then you don’t have to take it off when having a shower or bath – just make sure it is rinsed and  dried thoroughly


Accidentally cleaning gold with silver cleaner

They can be cleaned and buffed up by a jeweller but if they have detailed patterns (or stones) then they will need some specialized cleaning.


Silver dipped in silver cleaner too long and caused marks

They can be cleaned and buffed up by a jeweller. The workshop will use jewellers rouge which is a mild abrasive that will take off the ‘tide mark’ and will buff up the silver surface.


White gold going yellowish in colour

It is the plating which is now coming away and showing the gold metal underneath. White gold is a yellowish metal and can look really good by itself, but different white gold’s can vary in colour a lot. So often the jewellery is rhodium plated to give it a white shiny finish and a more uniform look with other white gold jewellery. Plating can either be quite thick or quite fine, but all plating will wear away over time. The item will need to be re-plated

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