Anti tarnish platings and coatings
In our last blog we discussed how packaging can cause silver to tarnish and what to look our for with your packaging so it does not create tarnishing issues. This brings us to the next subject in this series anti tarnish plating and coating for tarnish prevention.
Many jewelry, flatware, and gift ware manufacturers use a variety of materials to coat their silver in an effort to keep their silver from tarnishing. Two of the more popular methods are Rhodium plating, and e-coating. With Rhodium, which is in the platinum family, currently well above $1000 per ounce, this method can become costly. In addition, contrary to popular belief, Rhodium can oxidize especially when satin or sandblasting is part of the silver item's design. E-coating is another option which actually places a polymer (aka plastic) coating on to metals. While both of these methods provide some short term anti tarnish qualities to silver, the protection it created is often overshadowed by the drawbacks involved with these methods. Most common with both these types is that the coatings will eventually wear off as a result of everyday use and handling.
Another downside to using any type of protective coatings is what happens if an item needs to be repaired or polished. These processes will remove the coating or part of it, leaving some areas with the coating and others without it. The result being uneven color distribution which can only be corrected if the entire silver item is stripped or re-plated. This re-plating often requires stripping all the old coating off of the entire silver item before it can be re-done. For silver, if it requires rhodium plating, it often needs to first be nickel plated or it not, then it needs to be flash plated, both of which most jewelers do not have the resources to have done correctly or at a reasonable cost. Furthermore, Rhodium plating make silver look like whilte gold, so why buy silver? Silver is supposed to look like silver! If you want it to look like white gold, then I'll buy white gold!
There are many retailers that refuse to put any sort of anti tarnish platings or coatings on silver for all of the above reasons but in particular, let's say for example, you purchased a very expensive silver item from Tiffany's. Well they don't normally plate their silver, and for good reason: Imagine you pay alot of money for an item and then 6 months later the plating begins to wear off---unevenly. Most people might think, is it really silver? That would create an onslaught of customer complaints and inquiries, something any retailer would want to avoid and an issue consumers don't want to waste time on. This may, in fact, be the most important reason not to use an anti tarnish plating or coating. So what is a consumer, retailer, or manufacturer supposed to do?
So what is a consumer, retailer, or manufacturer supposed to do? Purchase unplated silver, keep it clean, and store it properly with jewelry packaging that does not accelerate tarnish but does just the opposite, by providing tarnish prevention without plating, coating, or leaving any deposits on your silver items. Always look for tarnish prevention silver storage products like anti tarnish bags, anti tarnish paper, anti tarnish tabs, and anti tarnish strips that are non-abrasive, sulfur free, safe, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly.