When discussing which jewelry does not tarnish, one needs to look at composition of what the jewelry is made of.
High Karat Gold
Pure gold doesn’t tarnish, but most jewelry is not made of pure gold. Instead, most gold jewelry is made up of a combination of different metals. That combination is what makes the gold jewelry tarnish. As a result, the higher the karat gold you purchase, the less likely it is to tarnish. This means 18K or 20K gold is less likely to tarnish. And of course, 24K will not tarnish (but jewelry is rarely made out of 24K because it is too soft of a metal.)
Most people probably do not know that silver or white gold jewelry is often plated with another metal- rhodium. Rhodium has its own place in the periodic table. This metal is used to give silver and white gold jewelry a dazzling shine, and it is also used to prevent tarnishing that would be natural to silver and white gold. If your jewelry is coated with rhodium, it will be less likely to tarnish. As a caution- if you want to keep it tarnish free, the rhodium plating should be re-applied every couple of years if you wear jewelry frequently.
Platinum is in the same family as rhodium. As a result, it retains many of the dazzling shine characteristics as rhodium. Platinum jewelry also tends to be primarily made of platinum (same as high karat gold). As a result, very few other metals are mixed into it that would have the potential to dull the shine over time.
What Does Tarnish?
Silver tarnishes quickly and easily, especially in higher concentrations. If you have pure silver, you can expect it to tarnish over time. In some instances, silver is mixed with other metals to try to reduce the amount of tarnishing over time.
Because white gold is a mixture of gold and other metals, it is subject to tarnishing because of the other metals. There are different variations of white gold that hold different properties – some are nickel vs nickel free, some are subject to tarnishing more than others. It all comes down to the composition of the white gold.
As a jewelry design and manufacturer, we have the ability to create pieces from different types of alloys to bring out different types of properties more than others. If you are interested in working with us to create a piece, feel free to contact us!