Why Does Jewelry Tarnish & Does Gold Filled Jewelry Tarnish Over Time?

We get asked often what our gold filled jewelry looks like over time, and whether or not gold filled in reality holds up over time. It's a great question that we'll do a deep dive here in this blog post.

Can you guess which Dante and Roma III rings are new and which are 2.5 years old?

What is jewelry tarnish?

First of all, let's understand the basics. Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that forms over metals, that is caused from a chemical reaction of the metal and another non-metal compound such as moisture, air or chemical compounds. The result is a dark tinge / discolouration of your jewellery.

Can any metal tarnish? 

Pure (100%) gold, titanium and silver do not tarnish. Metals that can tarnish include copper, brass, bronze, and alloys - that includes any fine jewellery that are less than 24k or 100% pure silver like 9k, 14k, 18k gold or sterling silver.

Can my fine jewelry tarnish?

There is common misconception that just because a piece of jewelry is solid gold, that it will not tarnish. Solid gold less than 24k can certainly tarnish, due to the alloy metal that is compounded with the gold component being one that is not corrosion resistant. However, on the other hand 24k gold and pure silver is too soft to wear on a daily basis.

Costume jewelry such as gold plated and alloy also tarnishes. Aside from this they can also contain unknown & harmful metals that are not safe for sensitive skin. 

Why does my jewelry tarnish? 

The chemical reaction occurs when the metal of your piece reacts to non-metal components such as oxygen, sulphur, and other chemicals. This causes the metal to darken. Certain metals such as copper can be very reactive to salt water, citrus or even sulfur from packaging. Sterling silver for example is also reactive to the air - aka 'oxidization'. 

The wear and tear of your jewellery depends on a number of factors and varies from person to person. These are:

1. Your lifestyle

When you are wearing jewellery, particularly gold filled, contact with chemicals can happen very often on a daily basis depending on your lifestyle and should be avoided to avoid wear. If you are washing your hands with soap, washing dishes with liquid soap, doing laundry, putting on body lotion, or spraying perfume, these are all examples of lifestyle-related factors that can be harmful to your jewellery and cause it to tarnish.

2. How you care for your gold filled jewelry

Generally, the more committed you are about the care of your jewelry, the longer it lasts. This also applies to gold filled jewellery, which in comparison to gold plated is highly resistant to tarnish. To find out how to care for your gold filled jewellery, read our care guide here.

3. Your body chemistry

Your body chemistry also plays in how fast your jewelry becomes tarnished. Factors that can affect these are your skin pH, how much you sweat, what you eat, what medicine you take, how much you drink, etc. Generally, if you are having a reaction to metals or experiencing more jewelry wear out of nowhere, this may be due to a change to your body chemistry, or environmental reasons below.

4. Environmental factors

Lastly, the environment you are in also affects the wear of your jewelry. Acidity in the air, pollution and humidity are major factors in jewelry tarnish. To reduce the effects of environmental wear on your gold filled piece, we recommend to clean the jewelry often with a polishing cloth, and keep the jewelry away from moisture and sunlight in our organic cotton pouches or boxes.

Will my gold filled jewelry tarnish?

Gold filled is an alloy, so are sterling silver and 9k, 14k, 18k solid gold. As such it can tarnish only when the combination of the above factors are present. However, compared to lower quality alloys, these fine materials (gold filled, solid gold) can resist tarnish at a higher rate. Given more care, it will also last for a much longer time, compared to lower quality alloys such as gold plated.

We want to show you what gold filled looks like exactly after wear (and correct care) over time. Our team has taken out all our old S-kin Studio jewelry to show the differences between a brand new & worn piece of jewelry. Most are subject to normal wear and tear such as bumps and scratches, but most are pretty much in tact and still beautiful to wear. You honestly couldn't tell if they were not compared side by side!

Dante ring gold filled new vs 2 years old

Dante ring gold filled new vs 2 years old

Felicity chain gold filled new vs 1 year old

Firenze necklace gold filled new vs 2 years old

Roma ring gold filled new vs 2 years old

zodiac necklace gold filled new vs 2 years old

What does YOUR jewelry look like over time? xx

-Team S-kin Studio Jewelry

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