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Silver Tarnish: Has your Silver Ring Turned your Finger Black/Green?

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Everyone loves summer, right? And we're all pretty sad that the mornings and evenings are feeling that little bit colder now. But hot summers can cause issues for a number of people who wear silver wedding rings. This is due to silver tarnish turning their finger a black/green colour.

Sterling silver is a soft metal that is easily scratched or tarnished. As individuals we all have very different skin types. Thus, our skin doesn't react in the same way to substances that it comes into contact with. This means that silver tarnish can happen at different frequencies on different people.

Why Does Silver Tarnish?

Sterling silver is an alloy of the pure element silver and other base metals, such as copper. While pure silver is not likely to tarnish, the copper and other base metals in sterling silver alloys can react with sulphur in the air. This leads to a natural chemical reaction which creates the black, blue, or green residue on the surface of your silver. The colour of silver tarnish can also change depending on whether it has come into contact with sunlight.

While sulphur is the leading cause of silver tarnish, it is not the only one! Humidity in the air, acidity in your skin, and various chemicals in products can cause this natural chemical reaction to occur.

Why Did my Silver Ring Tarnish so Quickly?

The acids will vary in your skin which can affect the speed at which the silver will tarnish. What you eat, drink and smoke or products you use such as perfumes, soaps, hairspray, cosmetics can affect your skins acidity levels. Another reason for such a quick reaction could be the hot weather. In summer we will naturally sweat more, and use products such as sun tan lotion. For this reason the way the ring ages depends a lot on the wearer.

If this is happening to you, the black that you can see is the sterling silver oxidising. If you have worn silver before without it tarnishing, it could be that it is imported silver which is different to UK silver. Alternatively, it is possible that the jewellery may have been plated or coated with something to prevent tarnishing.

How Can I Tell if my Silver is Genuine?

All precious metal rings should be hallmarked by an independent body, known as the Assay Office. There are four in this country that legally hallmark every UK made precious metal item. During this process, the ring is tested in a lab to ensure its quality is up to standard, and is then only hallmarked if it passes these tests. All our Silver rings are UK Stirling Silver 925 as hallmarked.

In order to prevent this natural process from occurring, your ring can be rhodium plated. This creates a protective layer to shield it from the elements. The majority of time Rhodium plating is used as a standard on all White Gold jewellery. This gives it it's silvery white finish, as naturally white gold is in fact quite dull and yellowy. Rhodium is also hypoallergenic.