Each year we get hundreds of emails from silverware lovers. They find that their lovely silverware has tarnished. Many sellers do not clearly explain the process of silver tarnishing to buyers and buyers are shocked to see their gorgeous silverware gradually change color to a darkish dull shade of yellow, brown and even black.
What Is This Ugliness?
What is silver tarnish? Silver tarnish is a natural process that occurs on the surface of silverware. Tarnish starts as a light yellow discoloration of silver; it then starts to change to darker shades of brown as the tarnish gets to be more severe. In extreme cases the tarnishing of silver could look very dark and almost black. Tarnishing occurs due to certain climatic conditions and also due to certain ingredients that are present in some materials. One such chemical that causes silver to tarnish is hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and things that contain this chemical will cause silver to tarnish quickly. Materials that stimulate silver tarnish are wood, felt, rubber bands, food items like eggs, onions etc. High humidity in the climate also hastens the silver tarnish process. Looking at these factors that cause silver tarnish, you will realize that the process of silver tarnishing can hardly be avoided.
Tarnish Attacks All Grades of Silver
Does silver tarnish mean that the silver used is not good? Surely not, because silver tarnish is a natural process and occurs with silver of all purities. Silverware is generally made from silver that is around 92.50% pure and this is done to increase the hardness of silver. Sterling silver as it is normally referred to (925=92.50% purity), is an alloy of silver and other metals. The tarnishing of sterling silver has nothing to do with the percentage of silver in the alloy. It would be safe to assume that all silver will tarnish.
Can silver tarnish be removed?
The answer to this question is, yes. It is possible to clean tarnished silverware and the procedure followed will depend on the degree of tarnish that is present on the silverware. Reputable companies sell silver polishing solutions that can be used for removal of silver tarnish. Most of these can be used at home to remove light to mild silver jewelry tarnish, however keep a few points in mind when buying or using these silver polishes. Check only for reputable brands and do not stress on low prices as these cheap polishes could destroy your silverware. Read the complete instructions on the container before purchasing it. You can then judge the suitability for your particular use and select the right silver polish. For example, do not get a silver tarnish removal lotion meant for severe tarnish, if your silverware has only mild tarnish. Some polishes might emit fumes that could irritate the eyes and nose, so use them in well ventilated areas. The instructions could also advise the use of gloves when handling the polish so ensure that you follow all recommended precautions. In the case of very severe tarnish on your silverware, professional help is recommended and home remedies might not be possible.