What Jewelry Does Not Tarnish?

You just thought of a perfect outfit for tomorrow going out and planned to wear this cute silver-colored necklace that you bought some months ago for a pretty good price. While trying out your outfit you realize that your jewelry is darker than you thought it was. The necklace has tarnished over time.

Maybe this seems familiar to you. Whether it’s jewelry that was an old gift or you found this really cheap and good-looking jewelry set online. Tarnished jewelry can happen to anyone.

In this guide, I want to show you what jewelry metals are resistant to tarnish and which aren’t. For your next jewelry shopping, you’ll know what metals you should be more careful with and which you should maybe avoid.

Lastly, there are some tips on how to keep your jewelry clean and avoid tarnishing. Because if you are careful and aware of your precious pieces, you do can wear many jewelry pieces for a long time.

Why Does Jewelry Tarnish?
Does Brass Jewelry Tarnish?
Does Stainless Steel Jewelry Tarnish?
Does Gold-Plated Jewelry Tarnish?
Does Gold-Filled Jewelry Tarnish?
Does Copper Jewelry Tarnish? 
Does Silver-Plated Jewelry Tarnish?
Does Sterling Silver Jewelry Tarnish? 
Does Titanium Jewelry Tarnish?
How To Prevent Jewelry From Tarnishing 
What Jewelry Does Not Tarnish?

Why Does Jewelry Tarnish?

Jewelry that is made of metals can turn green, black, or grey over sometime after wearing it. That process is called tarnish. The jewelry pieces have contact with our skin, skin oils, lotions and cremes, perfume, sweat, water, sulfur, oxygon, and some more materials. Humidity and pollution in the air can also influence the jewelry metal.

These factors can cause oxidation of the jewelry metal, saying that a chemical reaction happens and the jewelry metal reacts to the oxygen in the air. Some metals are more likely to react to the oxygen and some are less likely.

Because of that chemical reaction, the metal changes and turns black, grey, or blue and also leaves some marks on your skin after wearing the jewelry. These marks however are not harmful to your health or skin. They’re annoying and unfortunate the most.

Your jewelry pieces can also have small parts of darkened or lighted colors.

A beaded necklace chain with a round pendant out of brass.

Does Brass Jewelry Tarnish?

Brass is a mixture of zinc and copper. These metals have under normal circumstances good resistance to corrosion.

That means, they don‘t easily react with another substance such as hydrogen, oxygen, electrical current, or bacteria. Copper creates a sort of protective shield that keeps the metal from tarnishing. 

However, even brass has its limits. You know that brass starts to tarnish when the brass jewelry loses its shine. After some longer time, the brass piece thickens up, and a thick layer forms.

Does Stainless Steel Jewelry Tarnish?

Stainless steel is a metal alloy that contains iron and chromium and can also include nickel or other metals.

While iron do can tarnish after contact with water and air, the chromium in stainless steel makes this metal such a great material. Chromium is very resistant to tarnish.

If you keep it in dry environments, your jewelry will probably last for a very long time. You should be careful with water and stainless steel jewelry.

A stainless steel ring with a printed motive at the front.
A pair of gold squared gold-plated earrings.

Does Gold-Plated Jewelry Tarnish?

Pure gold doesn‘t combine easily with oxygen which is why it doesn‘t tarnish. But, we are talking here about gold-plated jewelry.

Here, the jewelry piece is made out of a different metal, and just has a thin layer of gold. This thin gold layer mostly isn’t pure gold either and so has a mixture with other metals too.

Many metals can be gold plated over, such as nickel, brass, copper, stainless steel, and silver. These, differently from gold, can tarnish quite easily. 

After some time of wearing your jewelry, the molecules in the thin gold layer break, and the metals underneath will be seen. Saying, the gold layer will get thinner and thinner until the metals are on the surface. The tarnishable metals are now potentially on your skin and so are able to tarnish. 

Does Gold-Filled Jewelry Tarnish?

For gold-filled jewelry, a metal core is layered over layers of gold alloy. The core can be sterling silver or brass. In contrast to gold-plated jewelry, gold-filled jewelry has several gold layers and is more durable. 

Technically, gold-filled jewelry can tarnish. But, to have tarnished gold-filled jewelry, extreme conditions, such as specific fires or some with chemical sulfide airs in nail salons, must happen.

Gold-filled jewelry can last easily over many years, under regular conditions, and doesn‘t tarnish.

Two simple copper rings.

Does Copper Jewelry Tarnish? 

After wearing copper jewelry several times on your skin, the metal reacts to oxygen from the air. Next to oxygen, materials such as moisture, skin, dust, or specific chemicals can cause oxidation.

This created tarnish is in black or brown tones. Some more development further and the copper will have a blue and green coloration, similar to what you see at the Statue of Liberty. 

Because copper jewelry can tarnish easily over some time, make sure to treat your copper jewelry well. Don’t wear your jewelry under extreme conditions, during exercising, and clean your pieces roughly after wearing them.

Does Silver-Plated Jewelry Tarnish?

Silver-plated jewelry can be a cheaper alternative to pure sterling silver jewelry. Sterling silver has 92.5 % pure silver. For silver-plated jewelry, a metal core, often a mixture of copper, tin, nickel, and more, is coated with a thin silver layer. 

The coated silver can tarnish over time. While silver jewelry is more durable than the metal alloy core, it still can tarnish over time.

Saying, if the jewelry is worn often and also under stronger circumstances, such as sports, underwater, while cooking, or putting on skin products, your silver-plated jewelry can start to tarnish. 

A chunky silver-plated chain with a star pendant.
A pair of sterling silver snow flake stud earrings.

Does Sterling Silver Jewelry Tarnish? 

Sterling silver, also called 925 silver, has 92,5 % pure silver. The other 7,5 % is filled with other metals, often copper. Sterling silver is often used in the jewelry industry because purer silver is too soft for this use. 

As said before {LINK}, sterling silver can tarnish over time. The pure silver metal in sterling silver jewelry cannot tarnish. Sterling silver tarnishes because of the copper amount in it.

The copper can quite easily tarnish over time. Because of the high percentage of silver in sterling silver, your jewelry can be worn for years without tarnishing. But of course, only if you still take care of it properly. 

Does Titanium Jewelry Tarnish

Titanium is a great material for jewelry. There are different titanium alloys used in the jewelry industry. It can differ from 99 % to 87 % titanium.

The metal is good for jewelry pieces because of its high resistance to very many chemicals, full resistance to saltwater corrosion, hypo allergy, and the titanium does not tarnish. 

However, before wearing your titanium jewelry to basically everything, check the titanium alloy, since there are metals included that do tarnish

Two simple titanium rings.

How To Prevent Jewelry From Tarnishing 

There are some ways and tricks how to avoid your jewelry from tarnishing.

#1 Correct Storing

A great and easy method for keeping your jewelry fresh is storing the pieces right.

  • Make sure you don’t scratch your jewelry. Put it into a jewelry box with a soft fabric or put it over a soft cloth. Especially if the jewelry is moved around, a soft underground and sides are essential.
  • Don’t mix all kinds of jewelry together. To have a soft underground and surroundings, other jewelry pieces can be harmful as well. Especially different materials, stones, and diamonds, jewelry pieces can scratch themselves and another. Looking for a specific piece while moving all the pieces in a jewelry box might seem like a classical habit.
  • Keep the environment dry. Humidity in the air can be very harmful to your jewelry is should be avoided when storing it. Putting it away in a box or in a bag at room temperature is a possible way. A garage or moist surroundings or openly in a room are bad conditions for storing jewelry.

#2 Take Off Your Jewelry

Sure, when we love our newest jewelry piece we never want to take it off. But, since we learned that many materials can harm our precious jewelry, we do should take off the pieces. Here is short list for when to not wear jewelry if you don’t want it to tarnish.

Don’t wear your jewelry when you

  • cock
  • do the dishes
  • take a bath or a shower
  • go swimming or in the pool
  • put on body lotions, cremes, oils, perfume or hairspray (when getting ready, putting on your jewelry should be the last thing to do)
  • exercise or sweat in general
  • use hand sanitizer

Sometimes it’s just good and protecting to take off your jewelry. And also apart from the list, maybe don’t wear your jewelry piece not every day and every second. Because how hard we try, tarnish is a natural cause and it can still happen. By leaving your favorite jewelry piece at home safely, you do the best caring for your jewelry piece.

Do you still want to wear your jewelry in the gym? Then you’d maybe like to read what jewelry pieces you can actually wear to the gym.

#3 Cleaning Your Jewelry

An easy way to keep your jewelry pretty and avoid tarnishing is to clean it.

First, you should clean your jewelry regularly after wearing it. If possible, try to clean your jewelry every time after wearing it. I know that sounds very ambitious, but just hold the pieces under water and then dry them separately with a soft cloth. This quick cleaning can make your jewelry stay pretty for longer.

If you either can’t manage to clean your jewelry every night, see if you can still make regular jewelry cleaning days. With regular cleaning, your jewelry looks prettier and you wash away dirty materials that has gotten on the jewelry pieces.

However, don’t exaggerate the cleaning. Soft and easy every day cleaning is already, e.g. just with water, but using chemicals or stronger materials for cleaning your jewelry can be harmful to your pieces. With almost every cleaning session, a very small part of the metal’s layer break. So, be careful to not clean too often.

What Jewelry Does Not Tarnish?

Now that we looked at the most common jewelry metals and how they resistant they are to tarnish, let’s put it all together.

Stainless steel, gold, sterling silver and titanium are great jewelry materials that don’t tarnish. For gold jewelry, look for gold-filled instead of gold-plated pieces if you’re looking for tarnish resistant jewelry.

Brass and copper are jewelry materials that easily tarnish over time. Gold and silver-plated jewelry also can tarnish faster since their metal core can tarnish.

However, a little tarnish on your jewelry piece is not the end of the world. You can easily clean it and it’s not harmful for your health or skin either.

To keep your jewelry from tarnishing in the first place, clean the pieces regularly and store them correctly. Don’t wear your jewelry while doing everything. Take your pieces off while exercising, cooking, showering, and putting on cremes, lotions, oils, perfume, hairspray or hand sanitizer.