What Metals Tarnish? | Tini Lux

What Metals Tarnish?

By Jacqueline Burke

Fashion jewelry is great for many reasons. It is affordable and allows you to try out a bunch of different styles. It lets you switch up your outfit and look without re-doing your entire wardrobe. I think every outfit looks infinitely and instantly more polished with jewelry. 

On the other hand, it can also be very frustrating when you purchase fashion jewelry that very quickly tarnishes, rusts, chips, or fades. Companies obviously do not advertise that their jewelry is likely to tarnish* within a few wears, so it can be difficult to make informed purchases.

Here is a breakdown of commonly used jewelry metals and whether or not they will tarnish or turn your skin green:

  • Brass (An alloy of copper and zinc):  Will tarnish. Copper very commonly oxidizes with skin and will cause the jewelry to tarnish and your skin to turn green
  • Gold Plating/Gold Filled/Gold Vermeil over Base Metal: May tarnish. This depends on the base metal.  When the plating wears away, the base metal (which is typically brass, pewter, or nickel) will be exposed and the jewelry will most likely tarnish
  • Sterling Silver: Will tarnish. Sterling silver is an alloy that is typically 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. The other metals, usually copper, will oxidize with the skin or the air cause the sterling silver to tarnish or your skin to turn green.
  • Aluminum: Does not tarnish. Pure aluminum develops a clear protective layer when exposed to oxygen so it will not tarnish. Aluminum alloys may tarnish.
  • Stainless Steel: Does not tarnish. The chromium in stainless steel forms an invisible protective layer that prevents stainless steel from rusting, tarnishing, or changing colors. 
  • Titanium: Does not tarnish. Because titanium is an inert/non-reactive metal, it does not react with water or oxygen and therefore will not tarnish, rust or corrode.
  • Niobium: Does not tarnish. Like titanium, niobium is an inert/non-reactive metal, it does not react with water or oxygen and therefore will not tarnish, rust or corrode.

Click to shop our collection of nonallergenic titanium and niobium jewelry


*Tarnish: a thin layer of corrosion that forms over some metals as their outermost layer undergoes a chemical reaction. It often appears as a dull, gray or black film or coating over metal.


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Andrea Podolski 10/31/2019

Thank you for the insight, I found information you provided.

Joan 10/31/2019

Confused on purchases and selling

So if I’m buying bezel- pendants. They are Zinc based alloy- silver plated or bronze…Do these tarnish. Are these safe to use for jewelry making?

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