The Ultimate Guide to Jewelry and Tarnish: How to Keep Your Jewelry Looking Like New

Jewelry tarnish

Introduction to Jewelry and Tarnish

Jewelry is a timeless accessory that can add style and sophistication to any outfit. However, one common issue that many people face with their jewelry is tarnish. Tarnish is a natural process that occurs when metals like silver, brass, and copper react with oxygen, moisture, and other substances in the air. In this post, we will discuss the causes of jewelry tarnish, how to prevent it, and how to clean and care for your jewelry to keep it looking like new.

Table of Contents

What causes jewelry to tarnish?

Jewelry tarnish is caused by the reaction of metal with the environment. The most common causes of tarnish include:

  • Exposure to moisture: When metals are exposed to moisture, such as sweat or water, they can tarnish more quickly.
  • Exposure to air: When metals are exposed to air, they can react with oxygen to form a layer of tarnish.
  • Exposure to chemicals: Exposure to chemicals, such as perfumes, lotions, and cleaning products, can cause metals to tarnish more quickly.

How to Prevent Jewelry Tarnish

Preventing jewelry tarnish is easier than removing it. Here are some tips to help prevent tarnish from forming on your jewelry:

  • Store your jewelry properly: Keep your jewelry in a dry, airtight container or pouch to prevent exposure to moisture and air.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals: Remove your jewelry before swimming, showering, or applying lotions or perfumes.
  • Keep your jewelry clean: Regularly clean your jewelry with a soft cloth to remove dirt and oils that can cause tarnish.

How to remove tarnish from jewelry?

If your jewelry has already tarnished, don’t worry – there are several ways to clean it. Here are some methods you can use to clean tarnished jewelry:

  • Use a jewelry cleaning solution: Jewelry cleaning solutions can be found at most jewelry stores and online. Follow the instructions on the bottle to clean your jewelry.
  • Use a baking soda and water solution: Mix a small amount of baking soda and water to create a paste. Apply the paste to your jewelry with a soft cloth and rub gently. Rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth.
  • Use a polishing cloth: Polishing cloths are a gentle way to clean and shine your jewelry. Simply rub the cloth over your jewelry to remove tarnish and restore shine.

What are the best ways to clean tarnished jewelry?

Will jewelry cleaner remove tarnish?

Yes, jewelry cleaner can remove tarnish from jewelry, depending on the type of cleaner and the level of tarnish on the jewelry. There are several types of jewelry cleaners available, including:

  • Polishing cloths – these are soft cloths that are impregnated with a mild polishing compound. They are good for removing light tarnish and restoring shine to jewelry.
  • Dipping solutions – these are liquid solutions that you immerse your jewelry in to clean and remove tarnish. They work best for silver, gold, and platinum jewelry.
  • Ultrasonic cleaners – these use high-frequency sound waves to clean jewelry. They are especially useful for cleaning intricate or hard-to-reach areas.

When using a jewelry cleaner, it is important to read the instructions carefully and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of jewelry you are cleaning. Some cleaners may be too harsh for certain types of jewelry or gemstones, and may cause damage or discoloration.

In addition, it is important to note that while jewelry cleaners can remove tarnish, they may not be able to remove deep or heavy tarnish. In some cases, it may be necessary to take your jewelry to a professional jeweler for cleaning or restoration.

Is tarnished jewelry still valuable?

Tarnished jewelry can still be valuable, depending on several factors such as the metal type, age, rarity, and condition. For example, antique or vintage jewelry may have a certain level of tarnish that is considered desirable because it adds to the item’s character and uniqueness. In some cases, tarnish may even enhance the appearance of certain pieces, especially those with intricate designs or details.

However, in general, tarnish does reduce the value of jewelry because it can obscure the metal’s shine and luster, making it look dull and unappealing. It may also be a sign of neglect or improper storage, which can further decrease the value of the piece.

It’s important to note that while tarnish can be removed, the process can be delicate and may require the services of a professional jeweler. Attempting to remove tarnish on your own with harsh chemicals or abrasive materials can cause irreversible damage to the jewelry, which can also affect its value.

In summary, while tarnish may not always affect the value of jewelry, it’s still important to take care of your pieces and keep them clean to maintain their original beauty and worth.

Can I wear tarnished jewelry?

Yes, you can still wear tarnished jewelry if you choose to do so. Tarnish is a cosmetic issue, and it doesn’t affect the integrity or safety of the jewelry. However, it’s important to note that some people may be more sensitive to certain metals, and wearing tarnished jewelry can potentially cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.

If you do choose to wear tarnished jewelry, it’s important to keep in mind that the tarnish may transfer onto your skin or clothing, leaving a green or black mark. This is especially true for jewelry that comes into contact with areas of your skin that tend to sweat, such as your neck or wrists.

Ultimately, whether or not you choose to wear tarnished jewelry is a matter of personal preference. If you love the piece and don’t mind the tarnish, then go ahead and wear it proudly. If you prefer your jewelry to look shiny and new, then take steps to clean and maintain it regularly.

How often should I clean my jewelry to prevent tarnish?

The frequency of cleaning your jewelry to prevent tarnish depends on a few factors such as the type of metal, how often you wear your jewelry, and your skin type. Here are some general guidelines:

  • For jewelry that you wear daily, such as wedding rings or watches, you should clean them at least once a week to prevent tarnish from building up.
  • For jewelry that you wear less frequently, such as statement necklaces or special occasion pieces, you should clean them after each wear and store them in a jewelry box or pouch to prevent exposure to air and moisture.
  • Jewelry made of certain metals, such as silver or copper, may tarnish more quickly than others, and may require more frequent cleaning.
  • If you have sensitive skin or tend to sweat a lot, you may need to clean your jewelry more frequently to prevent tarnish and keep it looking its best.

It’s also important to note that prevention is key when it comes to tarnish. To avoid tarnish buildup, try to keep your jewelry away from moisture, humidity, and direct sunlight when you’re not wearing it. You can store your jewelry in a cool, dry place, and avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals such as perfume or hairspray.

What jewelry doesn’t tarnish?  Which jewelry does not tarnish?

There are several types of jewelry that are less prone to tarnishing:

  • Stainless Steel – it is a durable and scratch-resistant metal that does not tarnish easily, making it a popular material for jewelry.
  • Titanium – it is another strong and lightweight metal that is resistant to tarnishing.
  • Platinum – it is a precious metal that is highly resistant to tarnishing and corrosion. However, platinum jewelry can be expensive.
  • Gold-filled – it is a type of jewelry that has a layer of gold bonded to a base metal, making it more durable and less likely to tarnish than gold-plated jewelry.
  • Sterling Silver – it is a popular metal for jewelry, but it can tarnish over time. To prevent tarnishing, you can store your silver jewelry in an airtight container or use anti-tarnish strips.
  • Vermeil – it is a type of jewelry that has a layer of gold plating over sterling silver. It is more durable and less likely to tarnish than gold-plated jewelry.

It is important to note that while these types of jewelry are less likely to tarnish, they may still tarnish over time with exposure to air, moisture, and chemicals. Proper care and maintenance, such as storing your jewelry properly and avoiding exposure to harsh chemicals, can help prevent tarnishing.

When jewelry turns green?

When jewelry turns green, it is usually due to a chemical reaction between the metal in the jewelry and the acidity of the wearer’s skin or the environment. This is called “oxidation” and can happen with various metals, but is most common with copper and brass.

When these metals come in contact with moisture, such as sweat or water, and acids, such as those found in skin oils or certain foods, they can react to form a green-colored substance called “patina.” The patina is a layer of copper carbonate that forms on the surface of the metal.

This reaction can occur more quickly in some people than in others, depending on their body chemistry and how often they wear the jewelry. It can also be influenced by the type of metal in the jewelry and the quality of the plating or coating that may have been applied to protect the metal.

To prevent jewelry from turning green, it is recommended to remove jewelry before swimming or showering, avoid contact with harsh chemicals like perfume, hairspray or cleaning products, and store jewelry in a dry, airtight container when not in use. You can also try applying a clear coat of nail polish to the metal to act as a barrier between the metal and your skin.

Why jewelry turns skin green?

Jewelry can turn skin green due to a chemical reaction between the metal in the jewelry and the acids in your skin. The green color is caused by the formation of copper salts, which occur when copper or copper alloy metals such as brass or bronze come into contact with acidic sweat or other substances on your skin.

This reaction is more likely to occur when the jewelry is exposed to moisture, such as sweat, and can be aggravated by factors such as stress, diet, or hormonal changes. The amount of copper in the alloy can also affect the likelihood of the reaction occurring.

In general, people with more acidic skin are more likely to experience this reaction. It is also more common with certain types of jewelry, such as cheap costume jewelry made from base metals like brass or bronze.

To prevent jewelry from turning your skin green, you can try the following tips:

  • Avoid wearing cheap jewelry made from base metals like brass or bronze.
  • Choose jewelry made from high-quality materials like silver, gold, platinum or stainless steel, which are less likely to cause a reaction.
  • Keep your jewelry clean and dry, as moisture can increase the likelihood of a reaction occurring.
  • Take off your jewelry before sweating, swimming or showering, as moisture can increase the likelihood of a reaction occurring.

It’s worth noting that while the reaction may be unsightly, it’s usually harmless and not a cause for concern. If you experience any irritation or other symptoms, you should remove the jewelry and seek medical attention.

Is applying clear nail polish to jewelry potentially damaging or protective for the piece?

Applying clear nail polish to your jewelry can protect it from tarnishing, but it may also cause damage, depending on the type of jewelry and the condition it’s in.

For certain types of jewelry, such as costume or fashion jewelry, applying clear nail polish can be a helpful way to protect the surface from tarnish and prevent the metal from coming into contact with your skin. However, it’s important to note that this is only a temporary solution, and the nail polish may wear off over time or with regular use.

On the other hand, applying clear nail polish to fine jewelry, such as gold or silver, is generally not recommended. This is because the nail polish can react with the metal and cause it to tarnish or discolor. Additionally, if your jewelry has any gemstones or pearls, the nail polish can damage or scratch the surface, ruining the piece.


In conclusion, jewelry tarnish is a common problem, but it can be prevented and cleaned. By taking proper care of your jewelry, you can keep it looking like new for years to come. Store your jewelry properly, avoid exposure to chemicals, and keep it clean to prevent tarnish from forming. If your jewelry does tarnish, use a cleaning solution, baking soda and water solution, or polishing cloth to clean it. By following these tips, you can keep your jewelry looking beautiful and shiny for years to come.