Whenever you are shopping for what’s regarded as the best of sterling silver jewelry, you always are aware of the possibility of that piece of jewelry changing color or having some different form of the coating after some time.
But as natural as it is to expect a blackish tarnish on your sterling silver bracelet, a change in color from silver to copper is one you never expect, and the moment you notice this change, you will be forced to stop wearing that piece.
Often, this change translates to a feeling of flushing your hard-earned money down the drain. At the back of your mind, you’ll be wondering why the bracelet turned copper in the first place.
In this article, we’ll take a look at sterling silver and silver bracelets to help you understand the reason for the color change and what to do when you notice such changes.
Why my silver bracelet turned copper?
Silver and sterling silver jewelry is expected to turn color and form a blackish finish over time. However, there are cases where the color change is a peculiar hue of copper.
The primary reason why silver bracelets turn copper has to do with the fact that the bracelet purchased wasn’t made of actual solid silver or best quality sterling silver.
Such pieces are essentially copper bracelets that have been plated with sterling silver. The layer of silver on the copper is ultrathin, and it will wear away over time, exposing the copper layer underneath.
So, as long as the bracelet is made of a copper base, the thin silver layer on top wears out when exposed to harsh chemicals or even sweat, resulting in the appearance of a copper finish.
The other reason why your silver bracelet has turned copper is because of corrosion. Silver (too soft to be used in jewelry) and its sterling silver derivative aren’t inert, and they get oxidized over time, which means that there will be some blackish specks after some time.
But because the sterling silver layer is not thick or going deep into the core of the jewelry, this sterling silver layer wears off, exposing the copper base.
The rate of corrosion is quite high for jewelry that remains in moist conditions or if the piece is left on wet skin/ areas for long periods of time.
So, if you wash your hands with your bracelet on and you don’t remove the bracelet or dry the area that the bracelet sits on, there is a high chance that the silver bracelet will turn copper sooner rather than later.
Therefore, dry your hands/ arms well, and avoid going to the shower or the swimming pool, even the ocean, with your jewelry on.
Both silver alloys, as well as copper, get corroded when exposed to salty conditions, meaning they shouldn’t be worn in such conditions.
As mentioned above, sterling silver jewelry developed jet black dust or specks of dust, and this is a natural process that is exacerbated by metallic abrasion.
Now, when it comes to sterling silver jewelry with copper bases, metallic abrasion happens when the jewelry is exposed to very few items, things like makeup or lotions.
When these products come in contact with the jewelry, especially when they are rubbed in, the metal wears off, and you won’t have the sterling silver finish but a copper finish.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you only put on your jewelry after applying makeup and all other skin and hair care products.
Different chemical reactions will also turn your silver bracelet copper. Exposing the sterling silver bracelet to chemical compounds like sulfur, for example, will result in the corrosion of the sterling silver, exposing the copper underneath.
And since the copper underneath is extremely reactive to oxygen, the copper oxide will be formed, and you will notice an ugly green-chalky finish on your bracelet.
Finally, it’s worth noting that your body chemistry could be the reason for the bracelet’s loss of the sterling silver finish and the subsequent exposure of the copper base.
How to protect your silver bracelet turned copper?
First, stop buying low-quality bracelets and pieces of jewelry in general. Confirm that the sterling silver piece is actually made of sterling silver as a whole so that in case of tarnishing, it would be easy to polish off the tarnished layer, retaining that nice silver finish,
Alternatively, you may have to re-plate the bracelet at the jewelers. Note that this is only an ideal solution if the piece is worth anything, which, unfortunately, isn’t always the case.
Your sterling silver bracelet turns copper when it is made of a copper base, and this is the most common thing that happens when you buy cheap bracelets.
Since the sterling silver layer will wear off eventually, it’s important to look for the more expensive bracelets that are made entirely of sterling silver.
And if you are worried that the piece you bought might not be genuine, we recommend keeping it away from moisture and wearing it only occasionally.