Cubic zirconia, a popular diamond simulant, has become a favorite choice for jewelry aficionados looking for affordable yet stunning alternatives to natural diamonds. When paired with sterling silver, it creates a dazzling combination that catches the eye. However, many jewelry enthusiasts are left wondering: does cubic zirconia sterling silver tarnish? In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve into the intricacies of this question, providing you with all the information you need to make informed decisions about your jewelry collection.
The Composition of Cubic Zirconia Sterling Silver
To understand whether cubic zirconia sterling silver jewelry tarnishes, we first need to grasp the composition of these materials.
- Cubic Zirconia (CZ): Cubic zirconia is a synthetic gemstone made from zirconium dioxide. Unlike natural gemstones, CZ is designed to mimic the brilliance and sparkle of diamonds. It is known for its durability and resistance to scratching and abrasion.
- Sterling Silver: Sterling silver is an alloy composed of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, typically copper. The addition of other metals increases the silver’s strength and durability, making it suitable for jewelry crafting.
Factors That Can Lead to Tarnishing
Tarnishing of sterling silver jewelry can occur due to various factors, but it’s essential to note that cubic zirconia itself is highly resistant to tarnish. Here are some common factors that can contribute to tarnishing in CZ sterling silver jewelry:
- Exposure to Air: Sterling silver jewelry can tarnish when exposed to oxygen in the air. This process is known as oxidation and can result in a darkening or discoloration of the metal over time.
- Contact with Moisture: Moisture, such as sweat, humidity, or water, can accelerate the tarnishing process. It’s advisable to remove your jewelry before swimming, showering, or engaging in activities that might make it wet.
- Chemical Exposure: Contact with chemicals like perfume, hairspray, lotions, and household cleaning products can cause tarnishing. It’s best to apply these substances before putting on your jewelry.
How to Prevent Tarnishing and Maintain Your Jewelry
While cubic zirconia itself is tarnish-resistant, the sterling silver setting can be vulnerable. To keep your CZ sterling silver jewelry looking its best, follow these preventive measures:
- Store Your Jewelry Properly: Store your jewelry in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and air exposure. Consider using anti-tarnish pouches or cloth to protect your pieces.
- Regular Cleaning: Gently clean your jewelry with a soft, non-abrasive cloth to remove any dirt or oils. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials.
- Professional Care: If your jewelry requires significant cleaning or restoration, consult a professional jeweler for proper care.