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Slowing down silver tarnish


#1

Hello

Is there ANY way to prevent, or at least slow down, the process of
sterling silver tarnish ? A lot of my stuff is exposed in a glass
case. I cover it up with a coton cloth at night most of the time
(but not always). I’m constantly polishing - grrrrr

Any ideas ?

Thanks


#2
Is there ANY way to prevent, or at least slow down, the process of
sterling silver tarnish ? A lot of my stuff is exposed in a glass
case. I cover it up with a coton cloth at night most of the time
(but not always). I'm constantly polishing 

If the glass case is an enclosed space (with closed doors, for
example), than get some 3M tarnish preveting/retarding paper. Looks
like black construction paper, it’s treated to absorb the compounds
that cause tarnish. Best in a small enclosed space, like a jewelry
box or while stored in ziplock bags, where you only then need a small
piece to offer almost complete protection. But even in a larger
showcase, if it’s a closed space (air doesn’t circulate with outside
of the case), then this stuff still works. You’ll just need a larger
piece of it.

You can also get some protection with some of the silver polishing
compounds, like Semichrome or some of the Haggerty’s creams, etc.
Many of these leave a thin semi protective coating that retards
tarnish. Of course, if you then clean the work in your ultrasonic or
with your steamer, that film is lost.

And there are some dip compounds intended for protecting against
tarnish while in storage, or more precisely in their original intent,
during the electroplating process if there will be a delay between
steps. These dips leave an invisible film that protects the metal,
but it cannot be handled without damage to that film. This can still
be useful for display pieces if they won’t be handled. Rio carries,
or used to, this product (who’s name I forget, darn it…), as well
as the tarnish preventative paper from 3M. Other suppliers also may
carry the paper.

And then of course, if you make the jewelry from Argentium or one of
the other firestain or tarnish preventing sterling alloys in the
first place, instead of standard sterling, your tarnish problems may
be significantly reduced. A number of refiners offer several such
alloys. United Precious Metals comes to mind as one with a good
selection of them for various manufacturing needs.

Peter Rowe


#3

We bought small squares of treated paper from Rio Grande. You put one
in a box of silver jewellery and it keeps it tarnish free. They do
help. I used to have cloth that was a type of flannel treated with
something to prevent tarnish. I keep my silver trays in bags made of
these. I don’t know for sure what is in them but they do work.

Nancy, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada


#4

I only know of two possibilities: anti tarnish strips in with the
jewelry and using Argentium

Gregor


#5
I cover it up with a coton cloth at night most of the time 

Silver is tarnished by sulfides. You might try to figure out what is
getting into your display cases to cause the tarnishing or if
something in the construction of the case or anything in the case
that could be causing sulfide gases to be released. Or do you have
some sort of combustion going on near the cases like a torch, gas
stove, gas furnace, etc. If it’s a gas furnace you might want to have
it checked by a qualified tech to be sure it’s safe.

Go to a fabric store and buy some Pacific cloth or whatever they sell
for silver cloth used to line chests for storing sterling silver
utensils and serving pieces. It’s a chemically treated flannel that
prevents tarnishing. Use the silver cloth to cover your silver
pieces at night.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
rockymountainwonders.com


#6

Hello Cecile,

You asked about slowing down the tarnishing of silver in a glass
case. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Be sure that your case is as air tight as possible - you need to
    avoid the exchange of ambient air

  2. Avoid display bases or items that might be outgassing sulfur -
    there are glues and papers that are guilty of this

  3. Put anti-tarnish strips in the case (Rio Grande sells them),
    especially around the door

  4. Use “pacific cloth” to line the case and cover display racks

  5. Keep the case closed (see #1.)

  6. Invest in an ionic cleaner (“Speedbrite” is the brand I have - it
    really removes tarnish (& patinas) quickly, but you will need to
    lightly buff with a polishing cloth to restore the shine)

  7. Try some tarnish-resistant sterling alloys like Argentium and
    follow directions on the tech sheet or website

Hope this gives you some ideas and brings success,

Judy in Kansas, where it’s a chilly, dreary day and rain (thunder!)
storms are predicted for tonight, (sigh). Tucson is looking better
all the time!


#7

What material is the body of the case made from? Oak, beech and many
plastics give off fumes that will tarnish silver, as do many
adhesives. Mahogany is the best wood for a case and glass for the
window rather than acrylic.

If your cases are not the problem then you will have to look at the
atmosphere it is in, fumes from smoking, gas cooking or heating and
anything in the cloth can cause tarnishing. Add moisture and it gets
worse. A small tin of desiccant may help with the moisture but wont
solve the problem completely if there is something nearby that is
the cause. hope that helps a little.

Nick Royall


#8

Cecile,

Blame the copper in the sterling for your tarnish and fire-scale
issues. Fortunately there are some terrific alternatives to
traditional (copper alloyed) sterling. A popular one is Argentium,
which has germanium added to traditional sterling, which migrates to
the surface of the metal, preventing tarnish. Downside is its
frailty when hot. One must be careful when soldering or annealing, or
the metal can break if moved while hot. There are a number of
wonderful alloys that can be added to fine silver to make low
tarnish/low fire scale sterling, but unfortunately, none except
Argentium (that I am aware of) are currently available as sheet or
wire stock from suppliers.

If you alloy your own metals, as we do in our studio, then you can
custom make your own metals, with the unique characteristics you
desire. One of my favorite alloys for sterling is S88, from United
Precious Metals in NY. We use it a lot, and far prefer it over
regular sterling for fire scale and tarnish control. It rolls out
wonderfully, and casts well, too. Downside is that many won’t devote
the time and effort to pouring an ingot and rolling out their own
stock, preferring ready-made stock.

I interviewed a metallurgist with United Metals a few months ago, and
he told me about a proprietary alloy they have invented (and
patented) which is much like Argentium, but with a smaller
percentage of germanium in the formula. They claim it has the same no
fire scale/no tarnish qualities of Argentium, but with much better
handling at hot temperatures without breaking. They claim the lower
amount of germanium improves the frailty when hot. I have sent for
some of United’s new alloy, but have not had the time to test it
out. Has anyone tried this new United Metals germanium alloy yet? If
so, how do you like its performance, compared to traditional sterling
or Argentium?

Jay Whaley


#9

I have a comprehensive Silver Care Guide on my site:
http://www.hermansilver.com/care.htm.

Jeff Herman


#10
Is there ANY way to prevent, or at least slow down, the process of
sterling silver tarnish ? 

Cecile, Years ago I used to buy a cloth called the “Sunshine” cloth.
All you had to do was rub the silver with that cloth and it really
held off case tarnish. “Sunshine” if I recall was a brand name. Rio
Grande may have them now but I purchased them from a supplier in
Washington state called… Alpha Supply. I think they are still in
existance. Hope that helps

DeArmond Tool


http://www.dearmondtool.com


#11

We carry 3M anti-tarnish strips. The larger ones work well in
display cases. I use them in my cases with good success (if I
remember to replace them every 6 months.) Without them, my silver
tarnishes very quickly.

http://www.suncountrygems.com
Part number is SUGM0002.

Susan
Sun Country Gems


#12

Jay,

I know it’s copper that is responsible for firescale, but it is
sulfur that is responsible for tarnish.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Alliance, OH


#13

I agree that the Sunshine cloth is great in bringing sterling back to
its shine. I found that if I did not follow the Sunshine cloth with a
soft cloth the silver would get a light dull brown film when warmed
in a lighted case or the warmth of an outdoor show.

Lee


#14
We carry 3M anti-tarnish strips. The larger ones work well in
display cases. 

I had forgotten those strips were available!!! Thanks for the
reminder Susan!! I used to put those in my cases too… they work
great and are probably better than the cloth I previously mentioned.
I may just have to get some more of those… Boy! Getting old is
bad! Ha!

DeArmond Tool


http://www.dearmondtool.com


#15
I agree that the Sunshine cloth is great in bringing sterling back
to its shine. I found that if I did not follow the Sunshine cloth
with a soft cloth the silver would get a light dull brown film when
warmed in a lighted case or the warmth of an outdoor show. 

I’m not sure about the length of time pieces stay bright, but I find
Goddard’s Long Shine cloth preferable to Sunshine cloth, and it is
available at hardware stores and the like.

I find Pro-Polish pads, sold by Rio & others, WAY better than either
of these at polishing. Amazingly good, I would say. Again, not sure
about longevity. It would be interesting to do a side-by-side… I’ll
try to remember to try that.

Noel


#16

Hello,

The germanium in the silver forms a protective oxide layer, yes? Or
it at least is present on the surface and prevents tarnish
intrisically…right? Would aluminum work as well? I haven’t seen a
phase diagram of aluminum and silver recently. I am not sure how the
aluminum would change the surface, I know aluminum in gold turns it
slightly purple and it can get brittle.

This is an exotic and unpopular choice to “improve” silver, but I
have added small amounts of ruthenium to silver. Ruthenium right now
is about $100/ounce. If you carefully add the ruthenium to the silver
you can get a small amount of ruthenium to dissolve (up to ~5%). This
seems to improve the tarnish resistance, but imparts a slight gray
tinge, in my opinion.

Seech


#17

For those of you who are manufacturing silver jewelry on a larger
scale, you can apply an “Anti-Tarnish” for Silver to your work.
Applied properly, It will provide a good 6 months to over a year of
tarnish/oxidation protection in the display environment by adding a
very thin organic layer. This coating keeps your work in its original
condition by preventing oxygen and other reactants from making
contact with the piece. It will continue protection until the piece
is used (it does not resist rubbing for long), so after purchase, for
example, a ring that is removed daily, the surface being rubbed will
last some months, then wear off.

This product is an economical way to get your work from manufacture
into the hands of the end customer in great condition, even if you
are shipping from a humid climate or the sales process takes many
months. The process is likely too involved for the small individual
retailer who only has a small amount of work to display, but if you
are producing work for many jewelers to re-sell and have tarnishing
issues, this will help.

The process is as follows: After finishing your work, “acid
activate” your work for 15 to 30 seconds in a mild sulfuric acid
solution (5% concentration, made with distilled water) then rinse
and/or steam your parts well, then simply dip into the prepared
anti-tarnish solution for 1 to 2 minutes at 49C, with mild agitation.
No rectifier required. Rinse, then warm air dry, and Voila! Your work
will no longer tarnish for a long time, and not until it is subjected
to steady handling.

You can find Anti Tarnish products at www.davis-k.com, its called No
Tarn 15

By Glenn Thompson, Davis K Products Inc:
manufactures of Rhodium for professional jewelers for over 35 years.
http://davis-k.com