Daily Wire Tip Nov. 14: To Tarnish or Not To Tarnish

By on November 13, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
November 14, 2010


I want to make a silver and copper bracelet. Which works best with copper, Sterling Silver or Anti-Tarnish Silver?

-Marilyn in Canyon, Texas


As the designer of your bracelet vision, the choice really is up to you! If you would like the bracelet to eventually tarnish to an antique look, then use Sterling Silver. If you would like just the copper to turn and the silver to remain bright, then choose Anti-Tarnish Argentium Silver.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    November 14, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Just as a personal opinion I’d use whatever type of silver matches your copper. If you have tarnish-resistant copper, I’d use Argentium, and if not use Sterling. That way they’ll tarnish (or not) together making the piece look unified.

  2. avatar

    Fred Jones

    November 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm


    I always hate to see Argentium Sterling Silver referred to as “Anti-Tarnish”, because it’s NOT, in fact, by any stretch of imagination tarnish free. At best, Argentium MAY be somewhat tarnish resistant. But the stuff DOES still tarnish !

    I live in a somewhat “hostile” environment for silver because we have traces of hydrogen sulfide in our water (very mild “sulphur water”) and exposed silver, even argentium, tarnishes fairly rapdidly. I made a pendant with argentium and “tested” the argentum by wearing the pendant continuously for a few months, including in the shower. I was quite disappointed to learn that argentium doesn’t seem to be at all significantly more resistant to tarnishing than “regular” sterling silver. Both seem to develop a dark tarnish layer very quickly – much more quickly than I wish for, but that’s how the chemistry of silver and sulphur works. The two ions are VERY friendly with one another and in my mind, the germanium oxide layer doesn’t seem to provide any significant protection worth the extra cost. But it makes the developer money.

    I had originally intended to use only argentium, but have since changed my mind. I regard “any ol'” sterling as equally acceptable and simply put up with needing to tumble jewelry fairly frequently to restore the brilliant white shine. (But MUST be careful with softer stones)

    Much to my surprise, that pendant even darkened to very dark during a four-month stint without polishing in a very arid area of New Mexico near the Mexican border. Perhaps my chest might exude extra sulphur ions ??? Fortunately the tarnish isn’t entirely unattractive as normal wear keeps even the dark tarnish fairly well polished, but it doesn’t look like silver to an unaware person.

    Fred Jones

    • avatar


      November 19, 2010 at 12:25 am

      What an interesting report on Argentium Fred. I also live in an area that produces high tarnish, but mostly from sulfur and here the Argentium only produces a slight blonde color after several months of being left on an outside shelf. Thanks for sharing your experience.