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Extremely fast tarnish problem

On Saturday I will participate in a market but all of my sterling silver necklaces tarnishes to brown color within 20 minutes. Please help!

I have worked as a silversmith for 10 years but never encountered this problem earlier. My newly made jewelry tarnish to a brown color within 20 minutes. It goes away with polishing dip, as usual, but it only delays the tarnishing. I bought the Sterling Silver from a retired silversmith. There is no sulfur or chlorine in the air since no other jewelry tarnishes. The silver wire is not soldered but melted to drops that has been mounted together. I have grinded and polished all fire stain after this, but oxidation occurs throughout the silver, mostly att heated areas but a bit slower in those parts that has not been melted. This is a necklace model I use to manufacture the same way without problems.
6 months ago I had the same problem with a hollow bracelet made from sheet (soldered, not melted). It became completely brown within 30 minutes. For that I used Novaline D protection but it still tarnish within a week. Back then I assumed that there were chemical filled micro-pores in the solder producing tarnish since it was concentrated around soldered areas.

But I don´t think this is the case now since the silver isn´t soldered. My only idea is to rise fine silver by deplete gilding but the design will make this difficult and I don´t know if it will work. But I would wery much like to know what happens.

Best regards
Eva Nedergard

If its not some reactive chemical in your environment, it has to be some characteristic of the silver piece. I would first suspect the anti-tarnish dip you are using is leaving a residue and catalyzing the reaction - 20 minutes is awfully fast - it sounds less like tarnish and more like some emergent coating from the chemical in the dip reacting to something. Try tumbling the piece in burnishing medium in a good alkaline soup - Rio’s Sunsheen eg. - a couple times, and see if it tarnishes as quickly. (I avoid these dips, they do bad things to the silver surface at a molecular level, and the piece gets cruddy much quicker. Pulling chains through a Sunshine Cloth leaves a better, longer lasting shine.) My next suspect would be the silver itself, perhaps some bogus alloy - I couldn’t quite tell if the tarnishing was on pieces you’d fabricated from non-refinery procured stock, or whether the problem was limited to off the rack ready to wear chains from who knows where. Copper oxide is red in color, Cu2O; firestain is gray, 2CuO - neither is brown. A quickie polishing that does not fully polish away firescale or firestain will still leave a shiny surface through which the gray will emerge, gradually darkening to a near black, but this takes weeks, even months to become visible to the untutored eye.

The mystery is solved and was due to a coating of iron. I have purchased new steel shots that I cleaned but used too much soap and increased the pH and the silver became tarnished. The oxide was hammered into the surface of the silver. Not so much that I visually noticed it right away but I noticed a smell of iron on my hands when I handled the jewelry. Maybe the color reacted with air when drying. TO REMOVE IRON COATING I USED SATURATED WARM SOLUTION OF ALUM FOR 20 MINUTES in ultrasonic bath and the silver color became normal and still is the day after. I can´t be sure but hope this is the case.

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Hello Eva, I have been doing silver jewelry for 4 years now. our problem was the tumbler. I could write you a book about our issues. we tried ‘everything’. after all, was worked was this: use vinegar instead of water in your tumbler. nothing else. your silver pieces will come out sparking and there will be no more tarnish. my black rubber tumbler thingy is being damage i guess , but for us we are so happy that we dont have to deal with tarnishing problems in tumbler we take the negative with a smile. specially if you have to have sparkly pieces tomorrow… hope that helps. :slight_smile:

Too much soap can cause that problem? That is something I’m going to have to pay attention to. Thanks for the question & mentioning your solution.

So glad I saw this. I had the same and could not understand it. I also use a tumbler. Thanks for all the inputs!