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Problem with Tarnishing of Silver Plated Buttons


I've had some difficulties with silver plated buttons being attached to garments tarnishing within hours of the buttons being attached to the garments.

The buttons do not tarnish before they are sewn onto garments, and in testing I've done they only tarnish when tested in an environment that includes the wool fabric they are supposed to be sewn onto.

I need to find out what is causing the problem so that I can eliminate it. Is it likely to be poor plating of the various layers that go on to the alloy button before the silver is applied?

As you can tell, I'm no plating expert !

Andy Nathan
- United Kingdom

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It sounds to me like the wool cloth is giving off a chemical vapor that is attacking the silver. I don't know much about textiles, so I have no idea what the material may be. Sulfur compounds are the most common chemicals that tarnish silver. Does the fabric smell unusual?

Laboratory analysis of the tarnished silver would give a clue. Some analysis of the fabric may also be possible. You could try washing a sample of the fabric, then expose the buttons to samples of the original fabric and washed fabric. If the washed fabric does not cause a tarnish and the unwashed fabric does, you will know that the fabric is the culprit.

larry hanke
Larry Hanke
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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