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Non tarnishing, non plated silver metal


I am new to this list and this may seem a bit basic for a question.
It has been bugging me for 19 years now.

Is it unusual for very pure silver to not tarnish for 19 years?

This silver metal I made was not in a container and was exposed to
the elements and fumes in a chemistry lab for years. It was handled
by chemists wondering why it did not tarnish. It received no special
care over the years. In fact, it received none. It was exposed to
hydrogen sulfide, sulfur oxides, mercaptans and other acidic and
basic fumes. I lost track of it and found it had spent time in my
kids sand box and in my lawn.

I have some 99.999, 5 9’s, SpexAE pure silver wire and it tarnished.
It wa s sealed in a glass vial with a PE cap. The cap never touched
the silver. The wire came from this metal supplier and had an assay,
but it tarnished.

I don’t get it. Some pure silver tarnishes and other pure silver
does not?

This wire does not have any oxygen scavengers such as Cu or Mn, nor
does the piece I created. Neither was plated with Rhodium or
Platinum, of course. I read some books and non tarnishing silver or
its prevention are not addressed exactly. Nobody comes right out and
says, “Pure silver does not tarnish.”.

A follow up question: How do you prevent the escape of oxygen during
solidification without using a scavenger, cutting the silver with
copper, or a vacuum furnace?

Thanks for any insights.


Dear Beauregard, At first I thought you where describing “Bright
Sterling Silver” (Germanium silver), but this has only been available
in the UK for about four years. So the only alternative is that the
piece is lacquered. Kindest regards


Brian S. Saynor BA (Hons)
3D Life-Style Metalwork & Jewellery

Howdy Beauregard, I’m sure you’ll get other responses but perhaps the
5 9s sample was thouroughly cleaned with a a solvent before it was
bottled and then reacted with some plasticizer from the lid. Perhaps
the lab sample received enough human skin oils to act as a barrier to
the atmosphere? I think the most successful low-tarnishing STERLING
alloy available is made with a small (1% or less?) amount of

1 Lucky Texan