Rust generally occurs to ferrous metals when oxygen and moisture are present in the atmosphere. Rust eventually penetrates the outer layers of metal and continues to corrode the underlying layers. Tarnish generally occurs from exposure to oxygen. Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that actually protects the underlying layers of metal from corroding. Both rust and tarnish are also caused by other naturally occurring sources including weather conditions, individual body chemistry, as well as cleaners, solvents and perfumes.
Keeping your finished jewelry clean until it is sold, as well as storing it in air-tight containers with anti-tarnish strips will help prevent tarnish from building prior to selling. Advising your customers on these same storage practices will help sustain the luster and finish they first fell in love with. If you need to clean any of your jewelry, or want to offer advice to your customers, review the videos and articles listed in the Resource section.
Note: Tarnish remover was designed for sterling silver, gold, copper and brass jewelry. If you have included gemstones in your designs, see the ''Gemstone Cleaning'' chart to make sure the tarnish remover will not adversely affect the stones.
- Michelle Wood, Jewelry-Making Expert