Sterling silver is a material that naturally oxidizes when exposed to oxygen. To avoid tarnish - keep in an air tight container or plastic bag. If tarnish occurs simply polish with a silver polishing cloth or a silver cleaning solution. Gold plate is an excellent choice for a gold colour without the gold price; it does, however, have a lifespan. Plating can last from 2-5 years depending on wear. Bronze or silver is used as a base metal so when the plating wears off you can bring your piece in to your local jeweller and have it replated for a fee.