In your search for the best silver jewelry, you will come across a range of sterling silver jewelry and silver pieces, and in between these, you will come across the silver-plated pieces.
What do you know about the silver-plated pieces of jewelry, especially the silver-plated brass pieces? More importantly, do these pieces of jewelry tarnish over time, or rather, what should you expect from the silver-plated brass jewelry?
We’ll be sharing everything you need to know about the silver-plated brass jewelry and its tarnishing process. So, let’s get into it!
About silver plated jewelry
Suppose you love silver jewelry items or are just into silver jewelry. In that case, the first thing you need to do is know the differences between the silver-plated and the solid sterling silver pieces, mainly because you wouldn’t want to be misled by jewelry sellers.
So, while to the trained eye, the plated and solid jewelry pieces look very similar to each other, there are several differences between them.
For starters, the silver-plated jewelry pieces are pieces whose base metal is made of any other type of metal like brass, copper, pewter, nickel, or any other white metal, and then the base metal is plated with silver.
So, the silver-plated piece only features a very thin layer of pure silver coated over the base metal. And so, because of the plated layer of silver over brass, the silver-plated brass jewelry is often labeled differently.
The common hallmarks for the silver-plated jewelry pieces include EP, EPNS, and in other cases, Silver on Copper, or in other cases, brass. In other words, the plated silver jewelry is as described, and it is made of brass for the base metal, while the metal coating on the brass is silver.
Difference between Silver Plated and Sterling Silver
So, how does the silver-plated jewelry compare to the sterling silver pieces?
Well, several things set the silver-plated from the sterling silver jewelry pieces. And one of the main differences between sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry is that the silver-plated pieces are made of a base metal with silver plated over them.
On the other hand, Sterling silver jewelry is made of 92.5% pure silver alloyed with 7.5% metal alloys such as copper, nickel, or in other cases, a combination of metals.
The labeling or the hallmark on the silver pieces are also different, with EP and EPNS commonly used for the silver-plated pieces, against the 925, Sterling, or .925 sterling silver that is the hallmark for the sterling silver pieces.
For the pieces made in Europe, the hallmarks often feature the three marks of the leopard head or the anchor, the lion passant, and a single letter.
The other notable feature of silver-plated jewelry is that the plated silver pieces tend to be lighter in color than solid sterling silver. It is also heavier than these metals because of the brass or copper brass metal incorporated in the silver-plated piece.
As a result of the plated design over brass, for instance, silver-plated pieces are more durable than sterling silver pieces. Sterling silver pieces feature a darker silver color, and it weighs much less than the silver-plated pieces and is naturally lighter than the metals that are often used to make silver-plated jewelry.
Sterling silver pieces are also more lightweight, and the designs, patterns, and grooves on the sterling silver will wear off eventually.
That said, silver-plated jewelry is much cheaper than sterling silver pieces. However, they have no intrinsic value attached to them, and they also have a very low or insignificant resale value. Sterling silver is also much more expensive, with a higher resale value.
Will sterling silver plated jewelry tarnish?
Plated sterling silver or silver jewelry will tarnish, ultimately. This happens because sterling silver reacts with different elements in the air and the products you use on your skin, and so, at one point or the other, the sterling silver-plated jewelry will tarnish quite fast.
You also need to know that the fact that the jewelry is plated over with sterling silver means that there is only this ultra-thin layer of sterling silver over the brass or copper, and a scratch by something harder, especially when cleaning or just doing chores at home would scrape off that thin layer of sterling silver, speeding up the rate of tarnishing.
You also need to bear in mind that sterling silver and even pure silver is not inert, and they will react with oxygen and sulfur in the air, leaving behind dark specks or layer of tarnish that is either black or dark grey, or even green.
Does silver-plated brass tarnish?
Yes, silver-plate brass jewelry will tarnish over time. While silver plated jewelry tends to be much more durable than pure silver or sterling silver pieces, the base metal and the very thin layer of silver will quickly tarnish.
Tarnishing of the silver-plated brass jewelry often turns the skin green or leaves behind a black or a dark-colored discoloration, thanks to oxidation of silver/ sterling silver, zinc, and copper. And so, even though brass is a cheap base metal with a stunning finish, it often causes a green discoloration of
the skin because it reacts with air, water, and the products you use, leaving behind a dark-colored residue. Skin oils, humidity, and sweat react with brass and sterling silver, turning the skin green.
Why silver-plated brass jewelry tarnish?
Tarnishing of jewelry is primarily a result of oxidation. The metals that make up the jewelry react with elements like air, water, sulfur, and the chemicals in skin, hair, and body care products, resulting in tarnishing of the jewelry.
In the case of silver-plated brass jewelry, the sterling silver and also brass, that is the base metal, will react with different components in the air or the environment, resulting in tarnishing.
Tips for Cleaning Silver Plated Brass Jewelry
- Use simple and the gentlest cleaning products to clean your silver-plated brass jewelry. Often, warm water and a gentle liquid detergent will do a great job of cleaning the jewelry. You could also use a soft cloth to rub all around the jewelry. Note that the use of harsh cleaning products would remove part of the silver-plated layer and expose the brass layer underneath. So, be as gentle as possible. You could also wear polishing cloth.
- Even with light cleaning, always rinse the jewelry thoroughly, then air and pat dry before you store the jewelry.
- Body oils are also harsh and may increase the rate of tarnishing, so you should wear the jewelry on dry skin by preferably wiping the skin and jewelry before wearing it or keeping the jewelry safe.
- Don’t use abrasives though
Tips for storing your Silver-Plated Brass Jewelry
Before you store the silver-plated brass jewelry, make sure that you have dried the jewelry pieces thoroughly. You don’t want to expose the jewelry to moisture or air because these are the leading causes of fast tarnishing of silver pieces, even the plated ones.
- Store the jewelry in airtight jewelry bags and pouches, such as the plastic Ziploc bag that reduces the jewelry’s exposure to air. The airtight storage bag will slow down the tarnishing rate.
- You may also want to wrap the jewelry in the anti-tarnish bag or paper before sealing it away, just as an extra precautionary measure.
- Avoid exposing the jewelry to chemicals like household detergents, bleach, and chlorine because such chemicals are harsh and would damage your jewelry. You should also permanently remove the jewelry whenever you are swimming because the chlorinated pools and house chores will expose the jewelry to harsh conditions, causing a faster rate of tarnishing.
Silver-plated brass jewelry will tarnish after some time because the metals used to create the jewelry are reactive to air, moisture, and other products on the skin and the air because the metals are overly reactive.
Read more jewelry metal posts here or here!
Tiger is a fashion&jewelry lover. He is also a fashion jewelry manufacturer that help thousands of small business to grow and also do business with some big fashion jewelry brands. He is a truly metal expert and he will share some information you are looking for.