Why Does Jewelry Turn Black (Discoloration of Jewelry)

Here are a few tips on what you can do yourself to remove yellow, black and other discoloration on your jewelry.

The most basic thing to keep the jewelry nice is to wash them regularly and often. You wear your jewelry right against the skin.

When wearing jewelry, these are coated with a layer of sweat, body fat, air pollution, makeup and other types of dirt that they come close to and in contact with. This dirt layer causes the jewelry to react with the air, it oxidizes, and turns black.
Keeping the jewelry clean makes it much more difficult to oxidize. To clean silver and gold jewelry it is not enough to ‘just’ wear them when you shower. Soap and shampoo can also give lime deposits on the jewelry when it dries.

Why is your jewelry discolored?

There are many reasons, as mentioned why jewelry is discolored.

  • The humidity of the air
  • Air pollution. (In pure air, for example in the high mountain air, the silver stays shiny twice as long as in urban air).
  • Sulfur discolors silver and there is more and more sulfur in our air.
  • Sulfur pollutants in some foods, such as mustard, eggs, mayonnaise, almost bypass the silver black.
  • Some acids in fresh fruit such as apples discolor the silver.
  • Salt can provide depressions in silver.
  • Vinegar, ketchup.

It is sulfur that causes it to be brown or black on silver jewelry. It is said that the silver oxidizes. This is not entirely true, since it is really a sulfidation, ie a process where sulfur unites and forms a chemical compound with silver – silver sulfide (AgS), which forms a thin black film on the silver surface. The discoloration can also go down into pores and cracks in the material and then become a bit more difficult to remove yourself.

Sulfur is found almost everywhere, in the air, on the skin, painted surfaces, in fabrics, perfume, hairspray, some plastics, cigarette smoke, fossil fuels, and rubber candy, etc. We secrete various very sulfur through the skin so that jewelry can be oxidized at different speeds depending on who is wearing the jewelry. Humidity and some medications can speed up the process.

Thoroughly clean the jewelry with a toothbrush and detergent. Rinse thoroughly. When the piece of jewelry is then clean, it may need a little polishing.

Dip the jewelry in silver dip for about 10-20 seconds, no more. Avoid dipping freshwater pearls in the liquid. Dry it and then rub hard on the surface with an impregnated cloth. Dirt, grease and light oxidation are easily removed in this way. Here you can actually take any kind of mild polish: some old fashioned silver plaster or toothpaste. There are silver dips and polishing cloths impregnated with a polish to buy in goldsmith shops. These last for a very long time.
You should, therefore, do this regularly to keep the jewelry neat for a long time. It is not difficult and does not take long, but it is well worth the effort!

Another tip for cleaning jewelry

If you don’t have any luck with the above method, try this.

 The tartaric acid method
Mix 1 tbsp tartaric acid with 2 tbsp detergent. Pour in 1 liter of hot water. Put in the silver and leave it at least 5-10 minutes. Rinse and dry.

The aluminum method
Place a solid piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of a plastic bucket. Put down the silver and 2 cups of regular laundry soda. Pour over hot water. When the water effect has ceased, the silver is white and shiny again. Rinse and dry.

Aluminum method 2
Do as above, but instead of washing soda, use 1-2 dl of coarse salt. Leave for about 15-20min. Rinse and dry.


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