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Question

Can you assure me that your plated components will not tarnish?

Answer

No, we can’t offer that assurance, but if you experience problems with surface tarnish, it will only be on the silver and copper plated parts and can be corrected. By their nature both gold and rhodium will not tarnish under most ordinary conditions.

TierraCast uses fine silver on its plated parts. The composition of the silver plate provides the warm white color that is a good match with other silver components. Just like its cousin sterling silver, fine silver will tarnish during common use and will readily do so if subjected to harsh conditions, like water in a high sulfur hot springs. Tarnish is thin layer of oxidized metal on the surface and does not penetrate the item. On sterling silver this layer is usually grey to bluish black in color; on fine silver the color is a lighter tan color; both can be removed by various means.

Unlike sterling silver, the fine silver plated components should not be polished on a motorized wheel to remove the surface tarnish, but handled more gently. Both sterling and silver plate can be brightened by softly rubbing with a jeweler’s polishing cloth. Abrasive silver paste polishes should not be used.

The recessed black areas on our silver plated parts are water resistant and the parts may also benefit from a brief soak in a warm, dilute cleaning solution. There are several pre-formulated types available from jewelry and craft supply outlets, but we have found a dip in a mild Simple Green solution (followed by a rub with a soft cotton cloth) will often remove tarnish readily. If possible, always test the solution on either a small spot of your assembled piece or by soaking one part before cleaning a larger quantity.

The tarnish on copper parts presents somewhat different issues. Our parts are plated with pure copper so that their final appearance closely matches the natural tarnish of other solid copper components. As copper readily oxidizes toward a deep brown color, the question is usually whether to allow the item to “go its natural course” or to periodically brighten the highlighted surfaces. Only hand rubbing with a soft jeweler’s polishing cloth should be used on copper plated parts, as cleaning solutions may also brighten the recessed “antiqued” areas and ruin the overall appearance of the part.

Tierracast does not use “anti tarnish” coatings on its parts, as we have found these to be of dubious effectiveness. We do not use them in our manufacturing process so we can be sure that our cast components accept “antiquing” in a uniform manner. Nor do we apply them as a final coating, as we have found that they often age poorly and if their protective coating is scratched in use, the surface of part is hard to bring back to a uniform appearance.

However, we do have a few customers who have reported good results using Krylon spray to protect silver plated parts. This product is available in spray cans from art supply and craft stores. It forms a clear protective coating on the parts, greatly reducing their exposure to the air. If you think this approach might work for you, we suggest that you first test the process with a few small parts of various sizes and type of surface detail. If at all possible, suspend the items from a fine wire and spray evenly on all surfaces and allow to dry well before using.

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