Why does silver jewellery blacken and tarnish?

Published on : 16 October 20203 min reading time

Many people do not know what this reaction of the material is due to. Too often customers mistakenly think that the jeweller has sold them a poor quality silver jewel.
Don’t worry, this is not a sign of poor quality, but an intrinsic property of the chemical composition of silver.

The causes of tarnishing and blackening of silver :

  • Silver blackens naturally on contact with oxygen in the air we breathe, humidity, sweat, especially when its PH is very acidic.
  • Silver can also blacken on contact with cosmetics, hygiene and household products. Sometimes it is also caused by prolonged exposure of the jewellery in a dusty area.

The technique to avoid blackening: rhodium plating!

Rhodium plating will protect your silver jewellery from oxidation. Most jewellery

How does it work?

Rhodium plating consists of electrolytically depositing rhodium on a gold or silver jewel. Rhodium plating will protect silver and white gold from the chemical agents responsible for its blackening, i.e. sulphur compounds present in the air and on the skin. It also offers a second major advantage: it makes it possible to obtain jewellery with a rare brilliance and gives your old jewellery back its original shine and light!

What is rhodium?

Discovered in 1803, rhodium is a rare and noble metal from the platinum group. It is a rare metal that comes mainly from South Africa, the Urals (Russia) and Ontario. Around 20 tonnes are currently produced each year.

Extremely expensive (more expensive than gold), it is silvery-white in colour and, above all, very hard and stainless at room temperature. Moreover, it does not tarnish over time.

How long will this protection last?

It is important to know that although this process is remarkable, it is not eternal. The lifespan of this layer depends on its thickness and the care given to the jewel: 1 year, 2 years … sometimes a little longer. Indeed, friction and shocks are the main causes of its deterioration. So remember to take good care of your jewellery and to store it in special cases to avoid these shocks.

It is therefore necessary to renew it regularly, with a kit to be used at home or at a jeweller’s.

If you wish to keep your jewellery as you bought it, you will therefore need to regularly apply a new layer of rhodium (always accompanied by polishing beforehand to completely remove the old layer of rhodium).

What is the cost of rhodium plating?

As we have seen, rhodium is more expensive than gold. However, as the layer applied to the jewellery is thin, the extra cost is not astronomical.

At Dakaralliances, the rhodium plating of a silver ring will cost you around 7,000 FCFA. The price may be higher for bulky jewellery.

Finally, don’t forget that rhodium plating remains a choice. Certainly a silver jewel for example, will keep a new look without you having to maintain it, much longer than an untreated jewel. But you may also prefer to see your jewellery evolve over time.

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