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Fast tarnish on sterling


#1

Hi all,

I have a strange thing happening.

I have a tall vertical display case with 3 halogen lights in the top.
There are three shelves. It is all glass. There are little round
holes where the shelving brackets fit in. The sterling chains on the
jewelry are tarnishing unevenly and at a ridiculously fast pace. The
only real area for air to get in are the holes that run up and down
for the brackets.

Am I crazy to think maybe the lights and the heat are causing this?
Halogens can get so hot! I’m thinking of lowering the top shelf but
the lights need to stay on. Has any one out there had similar
problems? Those anti tarnish strips may be the next plan.

And…any advise on tumbling the tarnished chains??? I have both
vibratory and rotary tumblers.

Thanks for any advise!
Karen


#2

Karen -

I may be wrong, but I don’t think the lights are causing the
tarnish. They are speeding things up though. Chemical reactions
generally speed up in the presence of heat.

Check the mounts, or any other non-glass thing in the case. Are
there plastic/nylon pads? Does any metal present besides the silver
look corroded or discolored? Maybe the displays are at fault. I once
put some silver in a cigar box for transport, and within four hours
they had all tarnished.

Yes, you can tumble the chains. Do something to keep them from
tangling with each other. I would clean them with a silver polish
first - Wright’s Silver Polish is my preference. Rinse well and dry
thoroughly. Then put them back in the case with the lights off, and
see what happens over the same time they tarnished the first time.

Good luck,
Kelley Dragon


#3

If silver tarnishes rapidly in a sealed or semi-airtight environment
it’s usually because there is a material inside the case that is
releasing sulphur compounds.

Showcases frequently have rubber seals around the doors, the glass
may be kept in place by a mastic or the shelves may have rubber feet
to keep them from sliding. All these will release sulphur.

As the temperature inside the case rises (due to lighting perhaps)
this exacerbates the situation causing the material to release more
sulphur at a faster rate.

Tony Konrath


#4

Tarnished sterling necklaces in display case.

Karen I had a very similar problem but mine were not in display
cases. I made a bunch of necklaces for breast cancer awareness group
to sell for their fundraisers. As I made them I placed them in cotton
lined boxes and closed them. Prior to delivering them I took one
last peak at my hard work and was shocked to see the tarnish. Why did
it happen, was it a bad purchase from a vendor or what. I cleaned
them up again and put a piece of anti=tarnish in each box. Since we
both had the same problem under different exposures could it be we
just got a bad batch. Any one else have this happen?


#5

If you have halogen lights in the case they emit a fair amount of UV
light and will drastically speed some chemical reactions like
tarnish. Also many materials used in display cases will off gas and
speed tarnish. I have had jewelry returned by galleries and stores
incredibly tarnished by a fairly short time in display cases.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#6

Hi Peggy,

I’ve known that cardboard and paper products are not great for
storing silver. You can store the pieces in little zip locks then put
them in the box. This seems to work well for me. Also, I buy chains by
the hundreds and have never had a bad batch where they have tarnished
more rapidly than others. It’s puzzling.

Thanks for the idea though. And thanks to the other posters for
interesting explanations!

Karen


#7

Hi Karen,

You Sterling is probably just tarnishing from contact with plain old
oxygen, although heat could speed up the process.

You can protect your Silver easily with an immersion Anti Tarnish.
Most manufactures of plating solutions sell one, as do we. I
recommend a weak acid dip first (5% sulfuric in distilled water for
30 seconds, rinse, then the usual procedure is a 1 to 2 minute
immersion in the anti-tarnish at 50C, lukewarm rinse, warm air dry.
It might sound like a bit of work, but it will keep your product
free of yellowing/tarnishing etc for up to a year in a display
environment. (unless you get real close to those halogens) Good
Luck!

Regards,
Glenn Thompson
Davis K Products Inc.
davis-k.com


#8

You can protect your Silver easily with an immersion Anti Tarnish.
Most manufactures of plating solutions sell one, as do we. I
recommend a weak acid dip first (5% sulfuric in distilled water for
30 seconds, rinse, then the usual procedure is a 1 to 2 minute
immersion in the anti-tarnish at 50C, lukewarm rinse, warm air dry.
It might sound like a bit of work, but it will keep your product free
of yellowing/tarnishing etc for up to a year in a display
environment. (unless you get real close to those halogens)

Good Luck!


#9
You Sterling is probably just tarnishing from contact with plain
old oxygen... 

I do like being picky!

Silver does not react with oxygen.

Yes, I know it’s called oxidation but this is a technical term that
refers to an ion being added to the metal. It’s the opposite of
"reduction."

Tony Konrath


#10

Hi Glenn

I recommend a weak acid dip first 5% sulfuric in distilled water
for 30 seconds, 

Is this solution safe on stones + pearls set in sterling ?

Thanks


#11

The tarnish shield solutions I have looked at contain
perchloroethylene otherwise known as tetrachloroethylene or dry
cleaning solvent. Make sure you have real good ventilation and
personal protective equipment if you are going to use it as it is a
Class 2A carcinogen, and requires hazmat disposal of waste solution.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#12
You Sterling is probably just tarnishing from contact with plain
old oxygen, although heat could speed up the process. 

Sulphides are the usual culprit. Silver oxide can’t be made by
simple exposure to oxygen. I think the usual method is the chemical
reaction between silver nitrate and a hydroxide, such as lye.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#13

For what this is worth …

My daughter sent a big collection of antique American silver to
Japan for an exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s museum in
Nagoya a few years ago. The stuff tarnished quickly and badly in its
very well-designed and constructed display cases. Controlled temp and
humidity etc etc, all the bells and whistles in place. Much
scratching of heads ensued. Perhaps a few heads rolled, for all I
know. She went back to troubleshoot and found that the folks who had
built the display cases used The Wrong Paint. So there’s another
possible thing to look at. What kind of paint or other finish was
used in your silver’s environment. I don’t know what the Right Paint
is - that’s not my area of expertise - but obviously you’ve got to
know all that kind of stuff to make it in this hard, old world.

Marty in Victoria where the weather is so fine that the Winter
Olympics may melt and run down the drain, just like all the good
money that’s already been wasted on it. We could have re-built Haiti
twice over for the cost of this fiasco.


#14
found that the folks who had built the display cases used The Wrong
Paint. So there's another possible thing to look at. What kind of
paint or other finish was used in your silver's environment. I
don't know what the Right Paint is - that's not my area of
expertise - but obviously you've got to know all that kind of stuff
to make it in this hard, old world. 

found that the folks who had built the display cases used The Wrong
Paint. So there’s another possible thing to look at. What kind of
paint or other finish was used in your silver’s environment. I don’t
know what the Right Paint is - that’s not my area of expertise - but
obviously you’ve got to know all that kind of stuff to make it in
this hard, old world.

This may very well be the cause, either the paint or even the type of
glue they used during construction. As discovered back in the 80’s,
cyanoacrylate (superglue) in a sealed plastic container will react
with any fingerprint residue…this later turned into a method to
develop fingerprints on items in law enforcement. Could there
possibly be a component that is emitting fumes that are having an
adverse affect on the jewelry? I don’t know how you would detect
this nor prevent it, sorry.

It’s the journey!!!
Peggy


#15

I have using protectaclear coating on my ss. In the literatur, PCBTF
is the hazardous component. It works well & I apply it in my garage.

Is this a safe product? It really works well but does damage
pearls…

Regards, Audie Beller of Audie’s Images