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Keeping Your Jewelry Bright and Clean - The 411 on Tarnish

Keeping Your Jewelry Bright and Clean - The 411 on Tarnish

Over the years customers have asked if the rings we sell are "real" sterling silver. The answer is yes! We do not sell what is known as costume or fashion jewelry; all our toe rings and thumb rings are considered fine jewelry, made of solid gold, sterling silver, platinum, and/or other precious metals. Fine jewelry will not peel or change color, and should maintain a very bright and shiny color for years to come.

Sterling silver is a wonderful and durable metal for rings and is super budget friendly. However, pure silver is too soft for jewelry unless it is alloyed with stronger metals. Copper is one of the metals that is used as an alloy. The silver we use is .925 sterling, which is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. 

Will My Rings Tarnish?

Tarnish is a natural response of how metal reacts with the oxygen we are breathing. All unworn silver jewelry left on its own and exposed to air will tarnish (remember grandmother's silver tea set?). Silver will also discolor more quickly in areas of heat, high humidity and pollution. 

Most jewelry that is worn daily usually will not tarnish. It has inside and outside environmental influences, as it maintains contact with our skin; body temperature, oils, sweat, and diet. The outer side faces air, water, soap, lotions, etc. Normal exposure to every day substances and activities should not impact fine jewelry, although some normal dirt and buildup should be removed by gentle cleaning.

So what happens when occasionally our skin turns green or gray under a ring or when a ring completely tarnishes for no apparent reason? Most people will have no problem wearing sterling silver. However, 2-3% of the population have a higher acidity in their skin and may have occasional problems wearing silver. The amazing thing is that the problem usually goes away on it's own!  

What Causes Tarnish

  • Jewelers warn that contact with hairspray, cosmetics, deodorant, perfume, bleach, body lotion, make-up, etc., can hasten the process of tarnishing. 

  • The silver in your jewelry might get oxidized when it reacts with acids in the skin and moisture from excessive sweating or food acidity.

  • Wearing your jewelry in highly chlorinated water (hot tubs or pools) or sulphuric water (hot springs) may also cause irreversible damage to the silver.

  • Contact with cleaning products containing bleach and other harsh chemicals may cause tarnish, and in some instances, dark discolorization.
  • Handling oil or coal as well as food which contains sulfur like onions, eggs, fish or shellfish can cause tarnish.
  • There is no specific duration over which the jewelry will stay bright before it tarnishes; some start tarnishing after only a few days, while other silver may take up to months before it fades away.

Caring for Your Jewelry

  • If your skin turns gray, remove the ring, wash and dry your hands or feet, and wash the ring as well, using a mild soap or jewelry cleaner. Never use cleaning products made for household use! 
  • Invest in a jewelry polishing cloth available online - a great addition to your jewelry box. Also purchase a silver cleaning solution, available at most stores.
  • When not wearing your jewelry, clean and dry completely before storing it in an airtight container or jewelry bag. has been in business for over 19 years, and we understand the need for information on why rings tarnish! But let it be known and put your heart to rest - this is a very rare problem. With THOUSANDS of rings sold, many of our customers tell us they have worn the same rings for a decade or more!

Thanks for trusting us and we hope you enjoy your toe rings! If you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear from you in the remarks below!


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