Can you wear silver jewelry in the sun? | UNDERSTANDING SUN DAMAGE TO SILVER JEWELRY |

Can you wear silver jewelry in the sun? | UNDERSTANDING SUN DAMAGE TO SILVER JEWELRY |

You want to go out and have fun in the sun. You want to hit the beach, have fun in the pool or maybe work on that tan you had been waiting for. While you may be really happy about the sun shining bright on you, there is someone (or something) who is not.

You guessed it right, it is your silver jewelry!

While minor exposure, even on everyday basis won’t harm your jewelry, prolonged exposure to warm rays can be catastrophic to your jewelry. When it comes to the damage caused by sun, a lot of factors come into play. These include:

  • the composition of your jewelry
  • the kind of environment your silver object is in (temperature, moisture and composition of air surrounding it)
  • the storage conditions

Silver jewelry is made with a combination of silver and other metals. Since these metals react differently to heat, moisture, sulfur present in the air, sunlight, tarnishing of silver jewelry is complex. Let’s get this complex issue sorted.

What is tarnishing in silver jewelry

When it comes to tarnishing in silver jewelry, there are two factors that come into play. First, tarnishing of the actual silver metal. Second, tarnishing of other metals present in the jewelry.

  • Silver Tarnishing: Silver reacts with Sulphur present in the environment to form silver sulphide. This process is also known as oxidation of silver. Silver sulphide is greyish-black in color and it creates a protective layer on the metal underneath. Exposure to sunlight does not cause tarnish in pure silver. The process accelerates in moist environments or exposure to substances that may contain Sulphur.
  • Tarnishing of Constituent metals: Silver jewelry mostly contains copper and sometimes zinc. Metals like copper react with Sulphur and oxygen to form copper sulphide. Having said that, copper is more reactive in comparison to silver. Hence, jewelry containing higher percentage of copper will tarnish at a much faster rate.

Does the sun affect silver?

A little exposure to the sun won’t do much harm, although it may have some consequences. However, prolonged exposure may increase the rate of tarnishing in silver. The process of formation of silver Sulphide is favored at higher temperatures. This implies, when silver (or copper) is heated up, and comes in contact with Sulphur, it will react faster than it would under cooler conditions.

One thing to consider here is, silver does not get heated up easily. However, the other metals of your jewelry may become hotter than silver in it. This will increase the rate of formation of copper sulphide. Consequently, making your jewelry darker faster under sun.

Does UV light affect silver jewelry​

Does UV light affect silver jewelry?

Yes, exposure to UV light damages silver. While minor exposure to UV light may not cause immediate visible damage, exposure to UV above 350 lux can be detrimental to your silver jewelry. Let’s understand this in detail. Silver normally forms a protective layer of oxidized (or tarnished) metal at the top. This layer is also known as patina.

  • Patina damages when exposed to UV light for a long time. The exposed layer of silver turns into fine silver particles, exposing the underlying layers and damaging your jewelry over time.
  • When exposed to UV light above 350 lux, patina is removed from your silver jewelry. Exposing the underlying layers. Exposing the next layer which again goes through the same process, eventually taking away a lot of silver from your jewelry.

Can you wear sterling silver jewelry in the sun?

If you are going to be under harsh sun for prolonged time on everyday basis, do not wear your sterling silver jewelry. However, if the time spent under direct sun is not going to exceed a couple of minutes or if sun is not that harsh, your jewelry will be safe. Prolonged exposure to sun can cause your jewelry to tarnish faster than it should.

However, silver jewelry can be prevented from tarnishing. By cleaning and taking care of your silver jewelry, you can wear it every day, even in the sun, without worrying about it. Let us learn about it in detail.


How do I protect my silver jewelry from the sun?

It is not possible to protect silver jewelry from the sun, but you can take measures to avoid any significant repercussions. When wearing silver jewelry outside, you should consider this to avoid damage to it.

  • Cover it: Just like we cover our skin using hat, muslin cloth or by wearing long sleeves, you can cover your silver jewelry. This will prevent the rays from falling directly on the metal, keeping it safe.
  • Remove it if sunbathing: If you are particularly going for sunbathing, it is better to leave your jewelry indoors or in shade. Taking it off before you step in the sun can protect it against exposure to sun.
  • Clean it: You can clean your jewelry with fresh water after being exposed to the sun. This is important when you have been to the beach. This is crucial if your jewelry has gemstones.
  • Protect from sunscreen: While stepping out, if you apply sunscreen, apply it about 15-20 minutes before putting on your jewelry. When not absorbed properly by the skin, the sunscreen may stick to your jewelry and fasten the oxidation process.
  • Ditch jewelry with gemstones: Some of the gemstones (e.g. Amethyst, Opal, Turquoise, Tanzanite) may lose color when exposed to sun for a long time. It is better to avoid wearing such pieces altogether when stepping out in sun.
  • Go minimal: Select very few pieces that you would like to wear. Avoid wearing a lot of jewelry when stepping out in warmer temperatures, especially if it is going to be exposed to direct sunlight.

What is the best way to store silver jewelry away from the sun?

Silver my tarnish even in storage if not stored in the right manner. Consider the following when storing your jewelry.

  • Prevent exposure to air: When storing silver jewelry, use airtight containers. It will ensure that the jewelry does not contact excessive moisture or harmful chemicals that accelerate the tarnishing process.
  • Store in dry environment: Please keep it in a cool, dry location to avoid the formation of a heavy black layer of corrosion. The process can be accelerated by sunlight, heat, and moisture.
  • Throw in some anti-tarnish strips: You can use anti-tarnish strips to prevent tarnishing.
  • Store pieces separately: To avoid scratching or tangling with other pieces of jewelry, store each one individually.
  • Beware of sulphur: You should not store silver jewelry in paper cardboard or cotton-filled boxes. These may include sulfur residues, which contribute to tarnishing.
  • Regular chalk works wonders: You can throw a piece of chalk into your jewelry collection. The chalk will assist in absorbing moisture and preventing tarnishing of your jewelry.
  • Silica gel pack may be used: When you buy new clothes or shoes, you’ll notice that silica packs are included. Use those silica packs and put them in your jewelry box. It is an excellent choice for absorbing moisture and protecting your silver jewelry.

This implies that storing your jewelry in an air-tight container with anti-tarnish strips, away from sunlight, is the best way. Wrap it in a clean cloth or a soft muslin bag. Throw in a piece of chalk to absorb any extra moisture.

What are tips for preventing the silver from tarnishing

What are tips for preventing the silver from tarnishing?

We’ve listed below a few tips that will help ensure your silver jewelry remains tarnish-free.  

  • Wear it frequently: The natural oils present on your skin help keep silver tarnish free. The best way to prevent your favorite silver jewelry from eroding over time is to wear it frequently.
  • Keep Sulphur away: Sulphur in the air accelerates tarnishing in silver. A lot of natural products, including food items containing egg have Sulphur. Long term exposure to such an environment will turn your silver black. This applies to silverware as well.
  • Avoid chlorine: Exposure to chlorine can be detrimental to silver. If you hit the pool every other day, it is best to take off your jewelry before entering the pool as most swimming pools contain chlorine to keep the water clean.
  • Keep it dry: It is nearly impossible to keep your jewelry from getting wet. However, by limiting the contact of water, you can, however, preserve your jewelry.
  • Choose the right cleaning products: It is essential to use specific silver jewelry cleaning products for cleaning silver jewelry. By cleaning your jewelry with things like toothpaste, you may be damaging it.
  • Protection from the sun: Keep your jewelry safe from UV radiations while wearing or in storage. If you plan to wear silver jewelry in the sun, take the necessary precautions.
  • Remove jewelry before household chores: Make sure your silver jewelry is completely removed before you start doing the dishes or cleaning. The reason is substances like cleaners, rubber, and chlorinated water can cause silver jewelry to tarnish more quickly, or worse, blacken.
  • Keep away from cosmetics: You may be compromising the sheen of your jewelry by exposing it to chemicals present in cosmetics. To prevent tarnishing, you should not expose your jewelry to makeup, hair sprays, or perfumes.
  • Wear it once you are ready: Practice putting on your jewelry in the last before stepping out. This way, you can keep it safe from water when you take a bath, your cosmetics, makeup, hair-sprays and perfume.
  • Be sure to store it properly: Ensure that your silver jewelry is protected from chemicals and sunlight by storing it in an air-tight jewelry box with anti-tarnish slips.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: Keep your jewelry safe from coming in contact with harsh chemicals.

What is the best way to clean silver jewelry so that it does not tarnish?

For silver jewelry to stay shiny, it is essential to take care of it regularly. There are innumerable ways to clean your silver jewelry. 

Listed here are some of the most popular as well as easiest cleaning methods. There is no limit to the number of times you can repeat this process. A thorough cleaning will keep your silver jewelry free of corrosion buildup.

  • Invest in a cleaner
When it comes to cleaning silver, you can invest in two products. First, a good quality silver cleaning solution. Many silver cleaners are available online and you may choose one. Second, you may invest in a jewelry cleaning device. It will prove to be a great investment if you have a few pieces. However, if you are not willing to spend so much, you may go for other alternatives that are discussed below.
  • Use soap and water 

Cleaning silver jewelry with regular liquid soap and water is highly recommended. These days many mild liquid soaps are easily available in the market. You can use any, just watch out for Sulphur or other harsh chemicals in the ingredient list. Use a soft brush to gently rub the jewelry if needed.

  • A mixture of baking soda and water 

There is a common recommendation that you should use toothpaste, but it’s better to avoid this step and use baking soda instead. There are many ingredients in toothpaste that can damage silver, and so it is better to use baking soda and water instead. By doing this, you will ensure that the least amount of chemicals are used. 

  • White vinegar and baking soda goes well

An effective way to remove heavy tarnish is by combining white vinegar and baking soda. After cleaning jewelry with baking soda and vinegar, make sure to rinse it thoroughly and pat it dry.

  • Always use a soft cloth to dry

Use the softest piece of cloth you can find. Muslin cloths work really well and that is what I use. Using a rough cloth may lead to scratches. Some people also like to use cotton, but I refrain from using it as it sometimes gets stuck within the gaps or cervix if the piece of jewelry has an intricte design.

  • Take time to polish it

When cleaning your silver jewelry, it’s always good to finish it with polish since it can help protect the silver. Jewelry polishing cloths are easily available in the market. You can also find cloths specifically made for silver jewelry.


When it comes to everlasting pieces of jewelry, silver jewelry is the go to as it is long lasting. It never goes out of style and this is why you can see many heirloom pieces in silver. This is the reason why many people invest in some good pieces. However, it necessitates proper care and maintenance. 

Although the sun has no direct effect on silver jewelry, it does have an indirect effect by speeding up the tarnishing process. Having said that, being a little careful while wearing and storing the pieces, you can make it last many decades. Maintaining silver jewelry regularly is the key to keeping it gleaming and exquisite.

Keep shining! 🙂

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