Yes Sterling Silver Can Leave A Mark

Yes, Sterling Silver Can Leave A Mark


I don't receive many complaints as jewellery retailer, indeed out of over 2000 sales, I've only had two complaints.


Both complaints were outraged customers who claimed that they suspect the sterling silver jewellery they purchased from me is 'not real silver'.


This claim has both times been simply due to it's imagined metallic smell and/or it's ability to tarnish the skin, from buyers who have bought into sterling silver myths about what denotes real silver and what signals fake silver (ie silver plated).


So I decided to add to the many existing articles on Google, which desperately attempt to debunk the fairytale that real silver does not mark one's skin, and cannot give off any sort of smell.

Sterling Silver Jewellery


Sterling Silver Does Tarnish And Leave Mark

Sterling silver is a metal, and like all metal it oxidises when exposed to oxygen. Of course when it comes to most silver items, they're near permanently exposed to oxygen and so your sterling silver jewellery can and will oxidise, and oxidising means that it will darken with tarnish.


This dark tarnishing can rub off on to your finger if it's a ring, and show a mark that has nothing to do with the metal not being real silver. Sometimes the discolouration is dark, other times it can have a greenish tinge.


The green finger effect in particular is related to the metal coming into contact with high body acidity, and occurs in about 2 – 3% of people naturally. It can also occur for people who have recently consumed something acidic, or taking certain medications.

Acidic Food Lemons


Reducing sterling silver tarnishing

- Always keep your silver clean and dry (More difficult if you sweat while wearing it and so you may wish to consider applying some sort of skin guard to protect the silver from our skin).

- Regularly clean and polish your silver jewellery, at least once a month.

- Remove your silver jewellery and rings before showering, exercising, or cleaning.

- When not being worn, store your silver in an airtight container to reduce it's exposure to oxygen.

Handmade Jewellery Gift Boxes and Silver Care Cards

Does Sterling Silver Smell?

Sterling silver does indeed does not have a particular metallic smell, and in the cases where buyers claim their silver has a smell, one can only assume that they are imagining it due to a fear that their silver is not real sterling silver.


Or potentially it is the odour of oxidising silver tarnish that they are smelling, rather than the silver itself.


Trusting Jewellery Sellers

For buyers who find it difficult to trust small independent sellers of jewellery, who typically do not hallmark their silver for small production cost reasons, they may feel more comfortable purchasing from a large brand name chain shop.


This does of course usually mean they will then have less access to affordable unique precious jewellery - as the large chains do tend to churn out the same old styles year after year with little in the way of uniqueness.


For unique handmade jewellery you can trust, visit our collections at 



More Sterling Silver Tarnishing Guides

Real 925 Sterling Silver Will Always Tarnish - Pure silver does not tarnish, but why jewelers use sterling silver instead of pure silver. 

A Sterling Silver Cleaning + Maintenance Guide

Avoiding Damage To Your Sterling Silver When Cleaning + Polishing - includes natural cleaning methods, tips from the public, and potential hazards.