Karla: Chlorine compounds react with silver to form silver chloride
(AgCl). The reaction stops when the silver surface is covered with
the silver chloride. There is no removal of silver or copper.
Chlorine bleach does not remove everything in sterling that isn't
fine silver as was apparently stated in a previous post. Silver
chloride is a white insoluble substance that is decomposed by light
to give colloidal silver which is purple/black in color. This is
the origin of the patina obtained by the person who made the
The situation with karat gold and chlorine derived compounds is a
different kettle of fish. Karat gold that has not been relieved of
stress (caused by hammering, bending, stamping, etc.) will
spontaneously crack when exposed to chlorine (and other halides such
as bromine and iodine) based materials. The process is known as
"stress corrosion." Prongs are vulnerable to failure from stress
corrosion because they have a small cross section, and they are
stressed during the setting process. Nickel white gold alloys are
specially susceptible to this type of failure. The stress in the
prongs coupled with the use of household bleach, and chlorine
treated swimming pool water can cause a prong to "fall off" in a
very short time.
"Marlinespike Seamanship in Precious Metals"