3 Highly Effective Ways to Prevent Tarnish

First, let’s start with defining what tarnish is and how it is formed.
It can be the blackening or dulling of your jewelry or it can be the goldish tint that your sterling silver takes on before turning black or gray.  The picture of the cup shows the various stages of tarnish.

Tarnish is caused by sulfides in the air and also by chemical exposure.  So, how do you prevent it from forming?

The 3 most effective ways I have found to prevent tarnish are:

  1. Last On, First Off:
    • There is a common saying that your jewelry should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off. This is very true.
    • Be sure to put your jewelry on AFTER you apply any perfumes or lotions to your skin or products to your hair, and try to avoid direct contact of your jewelry with these products. In addition to causing tarnish, they can damage the stones or natural materials in your jewelry. Soft materials such as pearls, amber and turquoise are especially susceptible to damage.
    • Remove your jewelry before doing dishes, going swimming, or using any household cleaners. Chlorine and certain cleaning products can cause tarnish almost instantly and can also cause irreversible damage to certain stones.
  2. Wear Your Jewelry Often:
    • This one surprised me, but the more you wear your jewelry, the brighter it will be. Although it is exposed to the air, the constant movement against your skin acts like a polishing cloth and will usually keep it looking shiny and new.
  3. Keep It Air Tight:
    • When you are not wearing your jewelry, store it in a sealable air-tight plastic bag, such as a ziploc bag. This will limit exposure to the air and keep your jewelry shiny and bright for longer.
    • It is also good practice to quickly wipe down your jewelry with a polishing cloth before storing in the plastic bag. It takes less than 30 seconds and will go a long way in protecting your jewelry from tarnish.
My final tip will sound a bit strange, but it works like a charm.  Add a small piece of chalk to your jewelry box or storage bags and compartments.  It will absorb all the sulfur in the air and help prevent tarnish.  You can wrap the chalk in cheesecloth to prevent direct contact with your jewelry.  You can also add anti-tarnish strips to your jewelry boxes or bags but I find chalk to be equally effective.

This post is part of a multi-post Jewelry Care series and focuses on how to remove tarnish from your jewelry.  The other posts in this series explore other means of cleaning your jewelry with an emphasis on natural jewelry care.  The other posts can be found here:

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