What’s Sterling Silver Jewelry? (and why must you care?)

All about sterling silver and silver jewellery

People have lengthy been entranced by glowing silver: as jewelry, coinage, excessive standing homewares and standing symbols … and way more in addition to. Silver is usually used to have a good time milestones, achievements, celebrations and ceremonies, in addition to for its stunning decorative worth.

However how a lot do you actually find out about silver and your silver jewelry? What’s sterling silver anyway? Why does silver tarnish and how are you going to clear it? How is silver totally different to gold? And why must you care?

As we have been designing and making silver jewelry for a few years, we’re right here to provide the lowdown.

Do not forget to additionally learn our article all about gold, karats and carats.

Let’s get began …

Silver: the lowdown

Comparable in its composition and character to gold and copper, silver is a very smooth, ductile and malleable steel which additionally takes a really excessive polish. Whereas it does not have the hardness of gold, it nonetheless has many makes use of, particularly when alloyed with different metals to make it tougher.

Silver is one of many seven metals of antiquity which had been identified to prehistoric people, the others being gold, copper, tin, lead, iron and mercury. Because it has been in use for thus lengthy the historical past of its discovery and early use are usually not identified.

It is a extra reactive steel than gold and is additionally tougher to extract from its ores when mined. This meant that in antiquity provides of silver had been rarer and due to this fact dearer till round 1500 BC when the Egyptians found new strategies of refining it.

At this time silver is significantly much less worthwhile than gold, which is rarer in nature and tougher to mine in bulk.

What’s sterling silver?

You would possibly surprise: is sterling silver actual silver? The reply is a particular sure. Sterling silver is solely an alloyed type of silver which is way more appropriate to make use of in jewelry and different metalwork.

Wonderful silver is 99.9% pure silver. On this type the steel is gorgeous and suffers from minimal tarnish, but it surely’s usually too smooth and malleable for a lot of makes use of, together with making most silver jewelry.

As an alternative wonderful silver is alloyed with copper to create sterling silver, which is 92.5% pure silver and seven.5% copper. This proportion of wonderful silver is why you’ll typically see sterling silver known as ‘925 silver’ or hallmarked with a 925 stamp.

The copper makes the silver tougher, extra sturdy and due to this fact a lot better to work with and use, however with out compromising on color. Most silver jewelry that you simply purchase and put on might be sterling silver.

Can silver jewelry flip black? The reply can be: sure – and it is to be anticipated and is straightforward sufficient to resolve.

The copper added to sterling silver will trigger it to tarnish extra simply, with the steel turning darkish brown or black over time, particularly in humid situations. Nevertheless, it is easy to scrub and beneath the tarnish your sterling silver will nonetheless be in nice situation: it will not rust or perish with regular use. See our helpful hyperlinks to articles about cleansing silver jewelry for extra data.

About silver jewelry

Cleansing silver jewelry

Sterling silver jewelry is a superb, prime quality selection in most circumstances. The steel won’t rust or perish, plus if you happen to take care of your jewelry it should look nice nicely into the longer term. You must even have the ability to go your silver jewelry on to future generations.

The softness of even sterling silver could make it unsuited to utilizing with very costly gemstone settings. Gold or platinum are the metals most frequently used on this state of affairs as they’re tougher and the settings are much less prone to be broken.

As a result of silver is smooth you need to take a bit extra care with cleansing it. By no means use harsh cleansers similar to baking soda or toothpaste as they may take away among the steel over time.

You’ll want to learn our article particularly about find out how to clear silver jewelry for the lowdown. Additionally see our full jewelry cleansing information for way more thorough jewelry care and cleansing data.

Silver or gold jewelry?

Your selection of silver jewelry or gold jewelry is primarily down to non-public desire, however except you are significantly rich, a serious deciding issue is value. It might come as a shock to study that though silver is after all a valuable steel, it is vastly cheaper than gold.

How a lot cheaper? On the time of writing silver is a few whopping 75 occasions cheaper than gold. This makes gathering a strong gold jewelry assortment a really expensive choice by comparability to silver.

The reason being primarily that there’s significantly extra silver on the planet than gold. It is estimated that 1.4 million tonnes of silver has been mined all through human historical past, whereas solely 173,000 tonnes of gold have been mined.

Try our helpful information to extra dialogue about this matter: Which Ought to You Select: Gold or Silver Jewelry?

How have you learnt your jewelry is actual silver?

In lots of instances the silver jewelry you personal might be hallmarked or stamped with 925 (sterling silver) or 999 (wonderful silver). You may additionally see the stamps SS or FS to symbolize every. Nevertheless, not all silver jewelry is hallmarked as it is not a authorized requirement in all international locations (together with Australia). We really feel that for some designs the hallmark can detract from the end of the piece, so we do not at all times use one.

So how else can you’re employed out in case your silver is actual? Scroll down to search out out …

One check is to make use of a robust magnet (ideally a rare-earth neodymium magnet). If the magnet joins strongly to the steel, then it is not silver or the piece might solely be silver plated over a base steel. Nevertheless, there are different metals that aren’t magnetic, so this isn’t a definitive check.

In the event you’re feeling courageous you can too dab a tiny quantity of chlorine bleach on the steel in an not easily seen place and look ahead to a response. Silver (together with silver plating) will usually flip brown or black within the presence of bleach. Rinse the steel nicely afterwards and use a sharpening material or silver dip to attempt to take away the discolouration.

By the way in which, this could offer you a clue as to why carrying sterling silver jewelry in a swimming pool isn’t a good suggestion! Chlorine and silver are usually not a very good mixture.

Lastly, you can too buy a valuable steel testing equipment from Ebay or Amazon which ought to definitively inform you what the steel is if you happen to comply with the directions. 

A warning about nickel silver and German silver

Chances are you’ll discover jewelry which is made with nickel silver or German silver, which is usually cheaper than sterling silver jewelry. Bear in mind that these metals do not comprise any silver in any respect. Our recommendation is that each metals needs to be prevented on the subject of jewelry.

Nickel silver is an alloy of copper and nickel, whereas German silver might comprise zinc as nicely. Many individuals develop nickel allergy symptoms over time. This could trigger nasty pores and skin rashes and as soon as you’ve got developed an allergy to nickel you will have it for the remainder of your life.

There are different issues concerning the toxicity of nickel and we strongly suggest that you simply by no means put on it in opposition to your pores and skin. All Simone Walsh silver jewelry is made with actual sterling silver and all of our designs – together with our gold jewelry – is nickel free.

The parting shot

The attractive vibrant and barely heat colouring of sterling silver jewelry will go well with virtually anybody.

As well as these with delicate skins are unlikely to have an opposed have an effect on from silver, not like with lesser metals. Plus after all it has a considerably decrease value than different valuable metals like gold and platinum, which means you may simply spend money on plenty of attractive and high-quality silver jewelry.

Like gold, silver will even preserve its worth – and probably even enhance in worth – over time compared to different commodities. It’s also endlessly recyclable and the steel will be reused in lots of kinds.

On prime of these advantages, having silver jewelry in your assortment will add to its model, worth, longevity and flexibility. Silver jewelry is a really glorious selection.

Extra about valuable metals

Study extra concerning the qualities and execs and cons of various kinds of valuable metals, together with gold and silver, that will help you select extra rigorously:

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