Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Florida Brown Silver Tarnish


#1

Currently I have my work in a few places… Am having problems with my
sterling jewelry. in a Florida gallery… I visit there. every 6
months and my work is covered with what I think is tarnish…it is
all a yellow-brown… However, it is so thick a silver cloth won’t
take it off and I have to repolish it using traditional methods…

I’ve tried using Rio’s non-tarnish papers in the case but they don’t
seem to do the trick… The gallery owner never polishes anything… I
am the only person in this gallery with silver that isn’t heavily
patinated so I can’t compare it to anyone else… I’ve visited.
another gallery. in the area and the silver is always clean &
shiny…

I am stumped… I finish my work using traditional tripoli/fabulustre,
or put a satin finish on it using various brushes, etc… I do not
lacquer anything, but am contemplating this… If anybody has any
input on lacquers, or what might be the cause of this stain, I’d
greatly appreciate it… When my silver tarnishes at my home, it is
not this. color/brown I am seeing in Florida…

Thanks,
Liane Redpath Worlund


#2

well Liane

I have the same problem, in Florida, cape cod and stone harbor… I
don’t know if you notice they are all oceanic coastal atmospheres.
Salt + water + air. I had a trunk show this summer in cape cod and
until then I couldn’t tell why this was happening to my work in
certain areasand not others until this time. while we were outside
under a large tent miles away from the beach itself, I watched my
jewelry go from this wonderful silver frosty white to the brown that
you speak of, so I walked around to look at what other peoples
jewelry was doing, and my conclusion was all the silver that was
textured in any way even the lightest sand blasting was turning that
brown. the polished pieces were turning but you couldn’t tell from
the shine until it was heavy enough and against a light colored back
ground. I was told by the gallery owners and the other artists that
this was the salty moist air all around us. the deox silver was
holding up a little better but even that was turning. I had a polish
cloth by lockhart jewelry, that cloth did work, but it is a
something that you have to moisten and wipe, it also comes with a
effervescent tablet, the cloth worked fine, but the tarnish was not
as heavy as you say, but it was just with in six hours that it turned
as we watched. so if left alone in a gallery case it would surly get
heavier by the day. the gallery I deal with actually has an
ultrasonic and all the cleaning materials and they do clean, so the
galleries who clean and take care of the work don’t have any
problems it’s just part of the course, while others can not deal with
the tarnish cleaning and give up or go to white gold. I personally
toyed with Lacquering and every once in a while I do, the problem
with that is that if there is any tarnish that makes it’s way through
the lacquer, near a seam with weather heat and moisture in the
atmosphere, then you have a problem of tarnish trapped and getting
worse behind the lacquer, which would mean more work for you or some
one who is trying to repair or clean the piece. the non tarnish
paper works only so far and so long, they do make them in blocks for
jewelry cases but even they can’t hold up against a salty
atmosphere. I looked into argentium and it seems pretty promising,
but with a huge learning curve, and quite expensive to cast, not many
casters are casting it yet. the other choice for me is the deox which
works a Little better then the regular sterling. or the platinum
silver which is more money and again not too many casters are casting
it. unless you don’t need casting and all your work is fabricated.
Ask the other gallery in the area if they clean the jewelry.
ultimately that is what has to come down to. also check the interior
of your galleries cases, as to what kind of material are they using
for covering the pads, paper? cloth? plastic? even the smallest
detail will be important. and check the other galleries cases. I have
zip lock bags that would tarnish pieces, and others don’t which would
tell me something about the chemical make up of the plastics being
used in the baggies. Salty moist air is probably the cause.

Hratch Babikia


#3

It may have nothing to do with your silver at all. I used a
particular fabric in my showcases once, looked great, but, there was
some reaction of the silver to the fabric and it tarnished rather
deeply and quickly. When I changed fabric the problem disappeared.


#4

Hi Liane,

I also make and sell sterling silver jewelry through galleries and I
sometimes have this problem, although it usually is not as bad as
you have described. Sometimes it is caused by some kind of unusual
contaminate, like the adhesives used in the display cases. More
often it is because the gallery personnel does not polish the silver
jewelry on a regular basis.

Sterling silver will tarnish if left out in the open air. I store
and ship my polished jewelry in zipped plastic bags which keeps it
looking nice. I encourage my galleries to also store my jewelry in
these bags when it is not on display. I sometimes will send along a
polishing cloth along with a consignment shipment to remind the
gallery to keep my jewelry polished.

Sometimes I will send consignment jewelry to a gallery and sales
will be good for a while then they will taper off until I finally
have to ask to have my work returned. When it arrives I find that it
is tarnished and dingy looking because it was never maintained. Of
course no one was buying it in that unpolished condition.

As part of their responsibility for selling sterling silver jewelry,
gallery managers should make sure that the jewelry is polished on a
regular schedule. I think that they will find that they will have
more sales and that they will also have a more professional looking
gallery. This will help their business and keep their artists happy
and productive.

David Luck
www.davidluckjewelry.com


#5

I don’t know for sure, but I would hazard a guess that the high
degree of salt in the air from the ocean proximity might be a
factor. I learned wire wrapping from a Florida artist, and he would
only work in gold or gold-filled because of the high rate of tarnish
in Florida where he lived.

Beth in SC


#6

There are large phosphate fertilizer operations in Florida that
produce gypsum as a by product.

This may be producing a high sulphur atmospheric level. Silver
tarnish is mostly a silver sulphide not an oxide. This will start
showing as a yellow layer darkening to brown them blue- purple and
then a heavy black. This probably what you see. The shop with a
bright polish may have a better atmosphere ( the patinaed work maybe
out gassing where your silver is) or just give better care. A light
coat of conservators or renaissance wax may slow the reaction down.
I have a similar mystery in central Texas-- in my house silver
doesn’t tarnish or is very slow to tarnish while at my daughters
about 10 miles further out Silver seems to tarnish very quickly. I
take little or no effort to protect it my daughter polishes hers and
it will go through the color stages to black. There is something very
different in the houses. My house and hers both have drywall I have
been here 17 years,she has been in hers 8 years ??? We both have gas
stoves -I have a gas drier she has electric. Her house is cleaner!

jesse


#7

What kind of case lights are being used? Some lights emit gasses
that cause silver to tarnish faster. I know that the halogens I use
in my cases cause my silver to look gold after approx 6 months. We
just polish - not the end of the world but a bit of extra work.

BBR - Sandi Graves
Stormcloud Trading (Beadstorm)
651-645-0343
St Paul, Minnesota


#8

I lived in Florida for 40 years, half of that in central Florida.
There is so much sulpher in the ground water that sometimes it’s hard
to walk around the neighborhood when the sprinklers are on because of
the strong rotten egg smell. The silver tarnishes exactly as you
described, and fast too. Downtown areas are probably not as bad, as
there are usually no lawns to water, so it doesn’t get airborne like
it does in the residential areas.


#9

The brown tarnish on silver is from exposure to gases. If you live
in a house with gas stove or heating. Or if you have your silver
anywhere near your torch.


#10
I watched my jewelry go from this wonderful silver frosty white to
the brown that you speak of 

I am so glad you mentioned this as I did a day of demos, outside, and
that is what I ‘thought’ was happening.? All of my work is textured
and most patinated.? So that leaves cleaning by dipping out of the
question.? I’ve not tried renaissance wax…that is next on my list.?

Thanks to everyone who replied.? Nice to know it’s not happening to
must me…

Liane Redpath Worlund


#11
I know that the halogens I use in my cases cause my silver to look
gold after approx 6 months. 

What makes you think the lights have anything to do with what
happens? I don’t mean to be a PITA, but I’d say if it takes 6 months
in the case for the silver to turn gold-color, I would suspect the
lights-- or something-- of retarding tarnish!

Noel


#12
What kind of case lights are being used? Some lights emit gasses
that cause silver to tarnish faster. I know that the halogens I use
in my cases cause my silver to look gold after approx 6 months. We
just polish - not the end of the world but a bit of extra work. 

The lights don’t emit gas (if a light bulb was at all gas permeable
it would cease to function in a matter of minutes as the interior of
lights is a vacuum), the materials in the cases however do off-gas
and the ultraviolet radiation from the halogen lights acts as an
accelerator to some chemical reactions like tarnish.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#13
What kind of case lights are being used? Some lights emit gasses
that cause silver to tarnish faster. I know that the halogens I use
in my cases cause my silver to look gold after approx 6 months. We
just polish - not the end of the world but a bit of extra work. 

Sandi, if you have not tried the speed brite ionic cleaner to take
the tarnish off silver I suggest you do. I was skeptical until a
studio mate of mine who crocheted silver ran into this problem. How
do you polish a mesh of crocheted silver wire… instant disaster if
you try. She bought one of the speed brite units and I was amazed. In
seconds all the brown and black tarnish from months of storage was
removed and the things looked brand new… Give it try if you know
someone who has one or if you can afford the $85 or $90 bucks. I use
one for case tarnished gold as well as silver and it saves hours of
polishing. Worth every penny you pay.(usual disclaimer goes here)

Frank Goss


#14

I used to sell jewelry to the Saks Fifth in San Francisco and they
used some jewelry pads for display that off gassed something that
tarnished silver very quickly. I don’t know about the brown color,
but they did know that these pads were the cause of the problem.
Perhaps this gallery is using something like this in the displays?
The pads looked like normal ones you would see anywhere…

Janet


#15

well Liane

As in my initial answer to your question and problem, I did forget
to mention that I do use the dip to clean my silver and gold
pieces,I do have a whole series that is highly textured too. I used
to use Tarn X,but it has been hard to get and now the places that
use to carry it are carrying an English liquid dip, I buy mine from
the supermarket actually.

it works really well better then tarnX, since it also leaves a
temporary protective coating. I think most people have bad
experiences with dipping because it seems after the initial cleaning
the metal tarnishes even faster,(open pours) which is true,if you
don’t rinse it real well ; or I basically go one more step to
rinsing it in a bath of baking soda and hot water to neutralize any
more reaction and then rinsing in water to get rid of the baking
soda residue.

the Renaissance wax is excellent,but it is not a hardy coating to be
handled,we used to use it at the museum for good moisturizer of wood
and ivory and sealing metal that is going to sit in a case somewhere
in a museum or a gallery. but once it gets handled it will rub off
the metal. As to the lights emitting gases, I think James had said
that that wasn’t the case which is true, but I think the culprit
might be the materials in the cases plus the heat from the lights?
that might speed up the process.

Hratch Babikian


#16

Hi all,

I love this board and learn so much here. Thank you all!=) Here in
the costal tegion of Virginia, I have stood at the Boardwalk Art show
in the rain and watched my silveer jewelry turn brown or speckeled
with black while only a few minutes passed. The acid rain and salt
air did it together. I used to take us a week to polishis everything
after the show. Apolish cloth couldn’t keep up. We decided to try one
of the ionic cleaners and WOW! How amazing, it sped up cleanup time
immensely.

Barbara in Norfolk


#17
What makes you think the lights have anything to do with what
happens? I don't mean to be a PITA, but I'd say if it takes 6
months in the case for the silver to turn gold-color, I would
suspect the lights-- or something-- of *retarding* tarnish! 

Noel - When I had different lighting in older cases, I didn’t have
this problem. Additionally, I don’t have as much of a tarnishing
problem in the motion cases that I have that use flourescent lighting

  • only in the halogen lit cases. It’s really odd, but something that
    was immediately noticeable when I upgraded my cases more than 10
    years ago.

James - you are correct, the lights are vaccuum sealed. I guess the
UV does cause it, but it is the halogen bulbs variety of the UV, not
other lighting types, that have caused the tarnish. I’ll look into
the Speed Brite cleaner - with 100’s of silver items it might pay for
itself in 2 days of cleaning :slight_smile:

BBR - Sandi Graves
Stormcloud Trading (Beadstorm)
651-645-0343
St Paul, Minnesota


#18

we made and showed our metalwork outside in the florida keys. yes,
the tarnish was intense! once we rowed our tools and a honda
generator and tent out to an outer island in the florida keys, and
camped and smithed for 6 months- the real name of the little island
is “little knock 'em down key” (that is the real name/see google
earth.)

we have also showed seaside in new england and our studio is on an
island next to the salt water in washington state. we did our work
on a small sailboat here for many years. we have never had the
tarnish as bad as we had in the keys. we speculated it was the
airborne calcium carbonate from the ancient coral reef of which the
florida keys are made. we have also noticed the salt in south
florida sea water is much more concentrated than either new england
or here around the puget sound.

adventure metalsmithng…lol

john and molly


#19

Thanks to everybody for confirming what I thought was happening with
my silver work. I live on the coast of Washington State and the
tarnish I experience there is grey/black…not brown/ochre like in
Florida. When I heard some of you write that it is because of the
sulfur/salt it made sense…as it looks like it’s been put in a weak
solution of liver of sulfur.

Am going to look for Speed Brite Cleaner…sounds like an easy
solution…

Liane Redpath Worlund


#20
James - you are correct, the lights are vaccuum sealed. I guess the
UV does cause it, but it is the halogen bulbs variety of the UV,
not other lighting types, that have caused the tarnish. 

If we leave out blacklight (UV) type fluorescent and mercury vapor
lamps halogen lights are the only ones that emit significant amounts
of UV.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550