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What is the name of jewelry that does not darken?

Long gone are the days when costume jewelry was considered a cheap substitute for expensive jewelry and tried with all its might to become as similar as possible to its premium “relative.” Nowadays, costume jewelry is considered an absolutely independent type of jewelry, which is not neglected even by celebrities, who clearly can afford something more expensive. Thank you, unforgettable Coco Chanel! However, who said that costume jewelry is a priori cheaper than jewelry? In the case of designer jewelry from fashion houses and mass-produced jewelry, this statement is not always true. But what should not be questioned is the lower durability of costume jewelry compared to products made from precious metals. Even an expensive product quickly loses its presentable appearance if it is worn and stored improperly. Not only leather, wood, beads and others like them, but also metals suffer from time and aggressive external factors. How to protect jewelry from oxidation? Let’s figure it out together!

Reasons for oxidation of jewelry

The oxidation mechanism involves the introduction of oxygen molecules into the surface structure of the metal. Each metal reacts to this in its own way: it darkens, becomes covered with rust or patina.

Pure gold, silver and platinum group metals do not oxidize. But they are not used in their pure form to make jewelry: other metals – alloys – are added to them. The more alloys, the faster the jewelry alloys oxidize.

Jewelry alloys oxidize much more intensely than jewelry alloys. Metals containing iron are characterized by the appearance of a loose red layer – rust. But alloys that contain copper react differently to the penetration of oxygen: they darken and become covered with a bluish-green coating. This is a noble patina that can be seen on antique products made from copper and alloys containing it. Sometimes modern copper products (such as door handles or staircase elements) are deliberately patinated, giving them an antique appearance. Jewelry specially coated with patina can be found on the websites of craftsmen. They are practically not produced commercially. As a rule, oxidation of jewelry is considered an unfavorable phenomenon that spoils its aesthetic appearance. If jewelry oxidizes, you should try to bring it back to life or simply throw it away. Nothing spoils an outfit more than peeling or darkened jewelry! Almost all jewelry alloys contain copper. This applies to both red and yellow (brass, bronze, tombac, randol) and white (nickel silver, nickel silver, alpaca and others like them) alloys. Therefore, the main “disease” of jewelry alloys is greening. Another metal that is added to most alloys is zinc. This metal, for example, is part of tombac, which is very similar to gold, which is often used by scammers. The zinc alloy in costume jewelry darkens, forming an unaesthetic coating, so that counterfeit jewelry inevitably reveals its ignoble origin over time.

High-quality jewelry is produced mainly from metals with a durable coating. The base is usually brass or another metal, and gold or silver is used as a coating. The thicker the precious coating, the better and more expensive the product.

  • high humidity and water (especially salty);
  • temperature changes and heat;
  • chemicals used in everyday life;
  • cosmetics, hygiene products, perfume;
  • natural body secretions.

It is impossible to completely protect your beloved jewelry from all these factors, but it is entirely within your power to minimize their harmful effects.

What kind of jewelry does not darken or oxidize?

Metals that do not darken do not exist in nature. Another thing is how quickly they become covered with a layer of oxides. For some alloys, the oxidation process is barely noticeable, while others become black or rusty within a few months.

High-quality jewelry that does not oxidize or wear off when worn is the dream of any fashionista. Such a thing exists, but everything in the world is relative: absolutely any alloy can be scratched, chipped, or “killed” by chemicals. Some are just more resilient than others.

Let’s take a closer look at the metals and alloys that are most often used in the manufacture of jewelry, and identify among them the leaders in terms of strength and resistance to external influences:

  • Copper. Spectacular and fashionable dark red metal. Upon contact with the skin, it oxidizes quickly enough, leaving dark traces (they say that they are healing). Copper is very soft, so it is practically not used in its pure form for making jewelry. The exception is copper wire, from which rings, pendants, and so on are woven.
  • Brass. An alloy of copper and zinc (often with other additives). Brass is inexpensive, durable and relatively resistant to external influences. It oxidizes quite quickly, darkening and pitting on the surface, so it is usually covered with a more stable metal.
  • Bronze. When people talk about jewelry made of copper (at least, those created by industrial methods), they usually mean bronze. In the composition of bronze, copper plays the main role, giving the alloy a spectacular reddish tint. Oxidation of bronze manifests itself in the appearance of a patina, and the rate of the process depends on the composition of the alloy.
  • Randol. Have you heard the expression “gypsy gold”? This alloy, visually very reminiscent of noble aurum, does not contain a single gram of gold. Randol is an alloy of copper with a small proportion of beryllium (often called beryllium bronze). It is often used to make high-quality gold jewelry that does not oxidize for a long time.
  • Red brass. Before us is another visual analogue of the noble aurum. He is well known to those who wanted to acquire cheap gold during a tourist trip and subsequently bitterly regretted it. Tompak is, in fact, a type of brass, that is, an alloy of copper and zinc, with all that it implies.
  • Dubai gold. Dubai gold has a complex composition, and it even contains real aurum. True, there is very little of it, and the rest is copper, tin, beryllium and so on. Therefore, the notorious Dubai gold is a fairly stable jewelry alloy, but in no case a jewelry alloy.
  • Cupronickel. Cupronickel is an alloy of copper and nickel. Once upon a time, in the Soviet Union, cupronickel was incredibly popular: it was used as an inexpensive alternative to silver. Nowadays, nickel silver jewelry is made to a limited extent, since nickel sometimes causes allergic reactions.
  • Nickel silver. We have before us another inexpensive substitute for silver: nickel silver is even cheaper than cupronickel. In addition to copper and nickel, it contains zinc. Nickel silver darkens much faster than cupronickel. In jewelry it is usually covered with a protective layer. Like cupronickel, nickel silver is more often used to produce jewelry with filigree and enamel.
  • Tibetan silver. These marketers are so creative! And so the trick was born about “Tibetan silver,” which usually does not contain a drop of argentum. There are, of course, authentic jewelry from Tibet made from a silver alloy. But the costume jewelry that stores offer is usually cupronickel or nickel silver, realized in the Tibetan style.
  • Jewelry steel. Steel is not used to make jewelry, so again we are dealing with marketing gimmicks. All jewelry made from steel is definitely costume jewelry. But for the manufacture of jewelry, very high-quality steel alloys are used that are resistant to corrosion. Of course, if you constantly test the strength of steel in salt water or acid, it will not withstand this, but under normal operating conditions, jewelry steel alloys are very good.
  • Titanium. Very durable silver metal. Titanium is much lighter and stronger than steel, and more resistant to external influences. High-quality titanium-based alloys do not oxidize under natural conditions, and jewelry made from them can last indefinitely. Another cool property of this metal is hypoallergenic.
  • Tungsten. Here is another metal that does not darken under normal conditions. Recently, tungsten carbide has become often used to make jewelry: designers even combine it with gold. In terms of hypoallergenic properties and resistance to external influences, tungsten is inferior, perhaps, to titanium.

Premium gold jewelry that does not darken is called jewelry. Typically, it is made from high quality steel and plated with real gold.

Metals and alloys that are prone to rapid oxidation are practically not used for the manufacture of high-quality jewelry. However, there is an option to protect them from external influences. This is a coating with a layer of more resistant metal.

As a rule, it is now practiced to apply a durable aesthetic coating by galvanization. Thus, in most cases, gilding is applied to brass, randole and others like them.

And products made from white alloys are often silvered and rhodium plated, that is, coated with a layer of rhodium. This helps maintain its original shine and protect jewelry from scratches and oxidation. Rhodium is a platinum group metal, very rare and expensive, but a tiny amount is required to apply a protective layer, so it is not too expensive.

If you want your jewelry to be guaranteed not to oxidize, it makes sense to look towards jewelry ceramics. It is very durable, hypoallergenic, aesthetic and invulnerable to oxygen molecules.

How to protect your jewelry?

To prevent jewelry from darkening or oxidizing, it should be worn and stored properly. Nowadays, popular trees and jewelry hangers are suitable only for temporary storage of jewelry. Dust settles on it, sunlight and other undesirable factors affect it.

Ideally, you should store your jewelry in a closed box, pencil case, organizer or cabinet, flattened. It is advisable to assign each piece of jewelry a separate compartment, and perfectionists store jewelry in personal bags and boxes. It’s good to put sachets of silica gel in the box, which removes moisture.

It is virtually impossible to prevent jewelry from darkening at all, especially if it is made of “bare” alloys without coating. However, you can pause this process.

  • Keep jewelry away from sources of heat and moisture, and protect from direct sunlight.
  • Be sure to remove jewelry at night, during water procedures, physical labor and training.
  • Apply creams and perfume first, and only then put on jewelry.

Take the time to coat the jewelry so that it does not oxidize so intensely. There are special varnishes for this, and some can cover not only metal (including fittings), but also stone, wood, glass, and so on.

The layer of varnish on the jewelry wears off over time. But it doesn’t matter: one bottle of good varnish will last you a very long time.

What to do if the jewelry has already oxidized?

What to do if the jewelry darkens, despite all your tricks? You can wash it in a soapy solution, clean it with some food acid (for example, lemon juice or vinegar) or a solution of ammonia. If we are talking about uncoated jewelry, light abrasives such as tooth powder, soda slurry, or GOI paste are quite appropriate. You can also restore oxidized jewelry in a workshop. There, jewelry is cleaned with ultrasound in special cavitation baths. However, it must be taken into account that for this purpose the product sometimes has to be disassembled, which significantly affects the price of the service. So it’s better to store and wear your favorite jewelry correctly than to later pay money to have it professionally cleaned!

Accessories for jewelry that will not darken, peel or lose their appearance are the dream of any handmade jewelry maker. And there is such fittings – these are steel fittings. Steel fittings coated with gold color will not darken after a long time, even in aggressive conditions! We were convinced of this by conducting our own long-term testing of gold-plated steel fittings.

Gold-colored jewelry has not only become a popular trend, but has also won the love of many fashionistas, so gold accessories for jewelry are very relevant for creating jewelry with your own hands. However, the gold color is quite capricious to wear; it is advisable to store and wear jewelry with care. We know that the highest quality fittings are made of steel, so we wanted to find out how gold plating would behave on this metal.

High-quality coating of gold-colored fittings – myth or reality?

So, we share with you the results of an experiment that began at the beginning of the year, when we received two types of steel gold chains. And we immediately had the idea to check the quality of the coating, since the question of a gold coating that would have ideal quality – it does not darken and retains its shine and color for a long time – has been worrying us for a long time.

Stage 1. Long – test with water.

In January, we immediately made a bracelet using one steel chain + a brass chain with balls + a toggle lock from simple fittings that came to hand (iron, jewelry alloy, brass – all gold). The test lasted four months – all this time our subject did not take off this bracelet when he took a shower or bath. The bracelet was bathed with shower gels and shampoos.

We see the result in the photo.

As you can see, the steel chain has not changed its color, but other fittings have acquired a pinkish tint. Conclusion – you can’t swim in jewelry. But we think you already knew this very well, don’t you? Below is a comparison of a steel chain on a bracelet and a new chain on a factory reel. Look, they are absolutely the same in color.

It would seem that the experiment can be completed, but we decided to continue and make more stringent conditions for the coating.

Stage 2. Quick. Water + salt.

We read on the Internet that the best test to check is a concentrated saline solution. Therefore, we took half a glass of ordinary water + 4 teaspoons of salt, put our bracelet there and added new steel fittings – new chains.

We left the fittings in the saline solution for a day. Let’s see the result – the gold steel fittings have retained their color. But the rest had a hard time: the pink color is now all over the surface, the fittings have clearly changed color.

To test gold steel and fittings under incredibly harsh conditions. We left all the parts in a concentrated saline solution for another 5 days (!). It must be said that this is too long a period of extremely aggressive environment, so any fittings are unlikely to be able to withstand this.

Let’s see what happened?

The edge of the glass where the water was was covered with salt, and a thick layer of salt stalactite formed on the spoon where the water evaporated.

And of course the result for the fittings turned out to be very terrible. except for the steel fittings!

In some places, slight blackening is visible due to the fact that the steel was in contact with other fittings. Against the general background, the steel looks just perfect.

Let’s look at steel chains in comparison with a new chain on a factory reel. When compared, the color of the experimental ones became a little lighter, but considering what they had to endure, they look very decent.


1. You cannot swim in jewelry. But we think you already knew that. But in steel jewelry it is quite acceptable.
2. Remember that costume jewelry is, after all, costume jewelry. It is not eternal, like jewelry metals, and therefore not so expensive. Therefore, you shouldn’t place too high demands on it. However, there are quite decent options for fittings that will last as long as possible for costume jewelry. And in this experiment we were convinced of this!

You can buy gold-colored steel fittings that will delight you and your customers for a long time in our Jewelry Findings – Steel Fittings section. The craftsman definitely won’t have to worry about the quality of the metal coating in the jewelry.

We hope this article was useful to you. You can watch the video of this experiment on our Instagram account @magicclay_ru or in our VKontakte group, search using the tag #magicclay_useful.

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