Facts about Sterling Silver Jewelry

by SophieSSmith

Silver jewelry is beautiful and affordable, and it never goes out of fashion. Most silver jewelry is made with sterling silver, but what is sterling silver?

Because silver that is completely pure is too soft for making jewelry, other metals are mixed into it to make it more durable. Most of the time silver is mixed with copper to create a harder mix that is more suitable for jewelry. This silver mixture is called an alloy, and the most common silver alloy is called sterling silver.

What is Sterling Silver?

Generally anything sold as silver has to contain a minimum of 92.5% of silver, and you can find this number inscribed on any genuine sterling silver jewelry. When buying sterling silver, look for this number as a sign of quality. You may see it written as 925 or 92.5.

The main benefit of copper is that it makes pure silver harder and more durable, but the main downside is its tarnishing effect. Over time the copper and silver mix starts to darken as the copper reacts to oxygen. Silver is sometimes combined with platinum to avoid the darkening effect, but platinum is more expensive than copper.

How to Look After Your Silver Jewelry

To prevent the tarnishing effect, store your silver jewelry in special anti-tarnish bags that are available from many jewellers. These cloth bags are treated with substances that can prevent or slow down the darkening process.

To get rid of dark patches on your silver jewelry, polish the silver with a soft cloth. Many jewellers sell non-abrasive polishers that are made especially for cleaning silver. The traditional method of cleaning silver with toothpaste is not recommended anymore, because most toothpastes are abrasive and can actually damage silver.

When storing silver jewelry, keep each piece wrapped inside individual pieces of cloth to prevent scratches or other damage. If your jewelry contains gemstones, it is even more important to wrap the pieces individually so that the stones do not scratch against each other.

Sterling Silver and Gemstone Jewelry

Most gemstones, including diamonds and colored gemstones, look beautiful in a silver setting. If you are planning to purchase a silver wedding ring, it does not have to come with diamonds: several colorful and less expensive gemstones are suitable for engagement and wedding rings.

The pink rose quartz is a traditional symbol of love and it is also very affordable. The combination of rose quartz and silver is a budget-friendly but beautiful choice for a wedding or an engagement ring. Moonstone is often called lovers’ stone and looks enchanting in a silver ring. The green-blue aquamarine is a traditional love charm and its color combines very well with silver. Topaz symbolizes love and fidelity, and blue topaz is especially popular in wedding rings. White sapphires are often used in wedding bands as a slightly more affordable alternative to diamonds, because the white sapphire resembles the colorless diamond and it can sparkle almost like a true diamond.


Updated: 02/18/2013, SophieSSmith
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Rose on 12/22/2013

Most cool colored stones (blues, greens and pinks) look better set in silver than in gold. Good to know about the anti tarnish bags.

Mira on 03/02/2013

I agree that gems are great with silver. We have fairs at the Geology Museum where sellers bring quite a lot of those.

katiem2 on 02/19/2013

Very interesting and good to be in the know. My daughter and I love silver jewelry and now I know a thing or two about it before I buy. Thanks :)K

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