Why Jewelry Oxidizes

Oxidation is the discoloration or blackening that occurs on a piece of jewelry. Oxidation is a natural process. Our sterling silver is .925 pure so we guarantee our jewelry is 92.5% silver with the remaining 7.5% being other metal alloys which help make the silver hard enough to be made into jewelry. It is the way the other metals, mostly copper, interact with the environment that cause a jewelry piece to oxidize. All sterling silver will oxidize over time and under the right conditions. The amount of oxidation that occurs on an individual piece of jewelry depends on many factors including how detailed the jewelry is combined with the habits and care of the person who wears the jewelry. Oxidation is not a manufacturer’s defect or fault.

Sterling silver can oxidize, turn black or discolor due to:
  • An individual’s body acid. Your jewelry may be at a higher or earlier risk if you enjoy drinking or eating foods that are high in acid like; coffee, wine, fruit juices, oranges, tomatoes, vinegar, pickles, etc. Read more at the high acidic foods list.
  • Prescription drugs. Certain medications like anti-depressants, sulfa drugs, some antibiotics or even multivitamins can interact with or change a person’s body chemistry.
  • Cleaning products and chemicals. Direct contact with bleach, ammonia, acid, alcohol, chlorine, etc. will cause a chemical reaction to the metals of jewelry.
  • Menopause. Woman in menopause can experience body chemistry and hormonal changes that make oxidation more possible while their body adjusting.
  • Extremely moist skin. Some people can have physiological or metabolic states that stimulate excess moisture and perspiration (sweat) even without purposeful exercising. Especially moist skin can interact with the 7.5% metals with a green skin staining.
We like to make the analogy that wearing sterling silver is like wearing white clothing... sterling silver needs special care and consideration to be kept in its most brilliant condition! Sterling silver should be cleaned more often to prevent or remove oxidizing causing elements. We recommend minimum exposure to air when your sterling silver is not being worn, store your jewelry clean in dry, air-tight containers (like the Ziploc bags we provide). After each wearing, clean your jewelry with our DPJ polishing cloth – one is provided with every purchase of $30 or more and cloths can also be purchased separately. As soon as you notice any blackening or discoloration, use a favorite product of ours: “Hagerty Silversmiths’ Spray Polish”. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to restore your jewelry’s original luster and shine.

* We are confident recommending our polishing cloths and the Hagerty spray. Both products were specifically developed for the purpose of polishing so they are gentle enough to give a quality shine while protecting your jewelry from damage.