Tarnish on Stuff Besides Sterling Silver

by Karen Cahill.
(New Jersey USA)

question-mark-tan-on-blue-denimThe tips here are great but I do not use sterling, I am using pewter, brass coated pewter, base metal and gold plated metals.

What is the best way for these type metals not to tarnish?

I spend alot of time and money making jewelry and have had alot of things tarnish and they are not cheap pieces. Can you help?

Thanks so much

Karen Cahill
Karen’s Jewelry Box

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  1. Tarnish is a reaction between the metal and the air (or more often the moisture in the air). So, to prevent it you want to keep the metal from touching the air as much as possible. This can be done with a sealant – spray on glazes, waxes, coatings. It also helps to store the pieces properly – in a sealed back and if possible include a desiccant pack or anti tarnish strip. If you do get tarnish, on plated pieces you want to be careful cleaning it off as it is easy to take the plating off with the tarnish. So, the name of the game is prevention!

  2. I would think you could keep them in zip lock bags to prevent air from getting to them much like we do with our precious metal. We also use anti tarnish strips that work well too.

  3. I agree with Sarah & Nancy – Zip lock bags and the anti-tarnish strips. In addition to that, I keep them all in small, clear plastic “shoe” boxes in a cool, dry place. Clear boxes help because I organize by color and, when something sells, I can easily find it. I label them with repositionable labels so I can easily update as inventory changes. Another great thing about these boxes – they easily stack in rolling suitcases for shows! :o)
    I had an experience in 2007 when I sold my jewelry in a retail space that was in a building with fumes from hair coloring, perms, etc. These chemicals accelerated the tarnishing process. I hadn’t expected that! Since then, I am even careful when I color my hair at home. Great – if you are looking for an easy dark patina, bad – if you aren’t. I have had great luck with plastic tackle & tool boxes keeping smaller items and findings from tarnishing. I put a non-tarnish strip in a few spaces and it does the trick. Good luck – prevention is worth the time, money & frustration saved.
    Kelly E. Marra

  4. Leslie Schmidt says:

    I have struggled with tarnish on everything as I live on the coast and everything gets damp. I recently bought silver cloth and cut a size of the material to cover my display trays which will now help this. Tried the tarnish strips and dessicant packets but these did not work. Talked to my cousins who do real silver and gold, they use the silver cloth and hand-polish their work with polishing cloths. I have a lot of jewelry made with plated silver/gold/copper over base metals. I can clean the gold and copper in my sonic cleaner I bought for $40 at Amazon but it won’t clean the silver plated base metal beads and spacers. Just read about someone using a battery-operated toothbrush to clean their stuff. I have a battery-operated scrubber for clothes that I used with Wright’s Jewelry Polish (per my cousins) and it worked!!! The head is larger than a toothbrush so may have to invest in a smaller head toothbrush to get into the tinier nooks and crannies. Trick is to not rub off the plated finish.

  5. Glenda Munguia says:

    I have cleaned some with a plain paper towel by rubbing on them. The paper towel gets dirty and the piece starts shining again. But if the plating has rubbed off already and you are seeing the brass already, then I would try brass cleaner from hardware store. You can also look up pewter specific cleaning tips

  6. M. Lenning says:

    WD-40 is a great preventative when it comes to tarnish. It is also used to prevent rust on saw blades and tools and comes in handy if you are working with wire that is plated. I had a lot of problems keeping my spools of plated wire sparkling and rust free because of the climate and sea air. Its an affordable and widely available alternative. Just make sure to be careful when spraying items that are not metal (specifically stone items like pebbles) as I am not sure if it would effect the color or finish.


  7. Plastic bags alone don’t do it.

  8. Stefanie says:

    I have been trying to keep my charm inventory from tarnishing I usually purchase solid brass that has a color of either silver or gold on it. I also store some alloy pieces. I was thinking that if air causes some of the problem, possibly using a bag sealer that vacuums out the air, but first placing the charms etc in a non tarnish bag, with silica gel, then taking out the air. Any info or comments about this approach would be appreciated.
    Thank You

  9. Hi Stefanie, thanks for asking. Here’s a post with info on preventing tarnish:
    Prevent Tarnish on Your Jewelry Inventory.
    Be sure to also read the comments below that post, because there are several additional tips on avoiding tarnish.

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