Over the last century, the word “sterling silver” has grown in popularity. This is because silver production and merchandising increased significantly to meet rising demand.
In this article, we will provide a complete guide to sterling silver jewelry, including how to care for it and its pros and cons.
Buying quality jewelry is by no means a cheap endeavor, and few things are as painful as investing in the wrong type of jewelry, either due to ignorance on one’s part or deliberate misinformation on the part of the jeweler.
Nevertheless, after reading this article, you will be fully informed about sterling silver, or “925 silver,” as it may be stamped on some pieces of jewelry you may have previously purchased.
What Is Sterling Silver Jewelry?
To start with, sterling silver is not pure silver. Rather, it is an alloy of silver and other metals, usually copper.
Sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% silver (hence the term “925 silver”) and 7.5% other metals.
Most sterling silver jewelry have a quality mark, which is a distinct stamp that indicates the metal’s purity. These stamps will sometimes read “.925,” “925,” or “S925,” and at other times, “Sterling.”
Price And Value Of Sterling Silver: Are They Cheap?
When compared to other precious metals, including pure silver, the price of sterling silver is comparatively cheap. However, when considered on its own, it is still quite expensive.
92.50% of the price of pure silver metal is represented by sterling silver. The weight of your sterling silver should be multiplied by the spot price, then divided by 0.925 to determine its value.
There are a few factors responsible for the expensiveness of sterling silver, and some of them have been highlighted below:
Like most other items, antique pieces made of sterling silver in good condition tend to have more value than their modern equivalents. Examples of these items may include jewelry, coins, kitchenware, musical instruments, and even furniture.
Although sterling silver isn’t quite as pure as solid silver, it is just as beautiful and shiny. This is because it can withstand rigorous polishing without losing strength. If your sterling silver piece is authentic, then it contains 92.5% pure silver, which still makes for a very high percentage of silver. Thus, it is equally as beautiful as sterling silver.
Pure silver isn’t very durable. Sterling silver has a far longer lifespan than pure silver. This is due to the fact that it is actually an alloy made of nickel, silver, and other minor metals. It becomes stronger and more resistant to direct pressure or heat thanks to the trace metals. Additionally, sterling silver combines the tarnish resistance of pure silver with the strength and hardness of copper and other trace elements to create sturdy jewelry that can withstand the rigors of daily use.
The value of your sterling silver jewelry also has to do with the intricacy of the design used in its fabrication.
The more complex it is, the more value it has. Also, the presence of precious or semi-precious stones or a plating of precious metals such as gold, rhodium, or platinum can increase the worth of sterling silver jewelry.
For all its beauty, pure silver is a very soft and malleable metal and is not very suitable for crafting jewelry, cutlery, and other articles. It is for this reason that sterling silver exists. Due to the toughness introduced by copper, sterling silver is useful in making a variety of intricately designed jewelry with relative ease.
Will Sterling Silver Turn Green?
Sterling silver can turn your skin green because of its copper component. Moisture in the air and on the skin reacts with the copper component of sterling silver to form a blue-green, copper-based pigment that forms a patina on the surface of your jewelry.
This blue-green pigment has a common name, “verdigris.”
What to do
One good thing about sterling silver jewelry is that it can be made shiny even after tarnishing. This means that the layer of patina on your jewelry is not permanent.
Green fingers are generally harmless but, nevertheless, are a discoloration.
In this section, we will consider how to prevent your skin from turning green when wearing jewelry.
With that said, here are a few tips to prevent skin discoloration:
- Minimize jewelry wearing—don’t wear it when there is no need to. Perspiration is the main factor in jewelry metals oxidizing and fading against your skin. As a result, you ought to refrain from wearing jewelry while engaging in demanding activities.
- Clean your jewelry frequently to get rid of any dirt, liquids, lotions, or soap particles that might stick to it, as these may oxidize against the skin.
- Avoid wearing jewelry while swimming because the chlorine in seawater and the copper react strongly with your skin, especially if it is an acidic type.
- You can use a polymer barrier to prevent green fingers by applying it to the inside of the ring (the part that touches your finger). Another choice is clear nail polish.
Does Sterling Silver Tarnish Easily?
This is definitely a tricky one to answer. Sterling silver will definitely tarnish because of its copper component. However, the speed at which tarnishing occurs varies from individual to individual, as some will take better care of their jewelry than others. Environmental factors such as humidity. Sulfur content in the atmosphere also plays a significant role in determining the rate at which tarnishing occurs.
With this in mind, I’d estimate that tarnishing in sterling silver jewelry starts about 6 months to 3 years after you first buy it.
However, not to worry, tarnished silver is not finished silver. We have curated in this article a few tips to clean and care for your sterling silver.
How To Clean And Care For Sterling Silver Jewelry
Learn how to care for your jewelry and how to clean it if tarnishing does occur if you want to keep it sparkling. These abilities are required to keep jewelry in good condition for a long time. In this article, we’ve provided a few quick yet effective tips on cleaning your silver jewelry, so if you’re looking for advice on bringing back the shine to your sterling silver jewelry, you’re in luck.
How To Clean
Place the jewelry in an appropriate-sized bowl, then pour white distilled vinegar over it. Pour baking soda into the bowl; roughly 4 tablespoons of baking soda should be added for every cup of vinegar. Let the silver soak in the mixture for about two to three hours. Using a soft cotton cloth, blot thoroughly dry after rinsing with clean water.
Another method you can employ is a lemon and salt bath. In this method, you squeeze a lemon into a cup or saucer and add about three tablespoons of salt and hot water.
Then place the silverware in the solution for 10 minutes, then remove it and rub the jewelry with a silver cleaning cloth.
How To Care
Earlier in this article, we discussed a blue-green pigmentation that appears in copper-based metallic articles known as “verdigris.” Now, we will list a few hacks to help you care for your jewelry and put off the appearance of this pigmentation for as long as possible.
- Jewelry should always be kept cool and dry to prevent verdigris.
- Do not put your jewelry away while it is still damp. Rather, wipe it dry with a piece of cotton wool or a small cloth.
- To absorb any extra moisture, keep silica gel packs nearby when storing your jewelry.
- It is best to avoid wearing jewelry anywhere it might get wet, such as in the gym or the bathroom.
- Avoid using shampoos, gels, and perfumes when wearing sterling silver jewelry. Also, be wary of cleaning products that usually contain corrosive agents, as they may be harmful to sterling silver jewelry.
Pros And Cons Of Sterling Silver Jewelry
Everything that has a good side also has a bad side too, right? In this section, we will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of sterling silver jewelry. After carefully weighing these factors, you can decide whether to invest your money in this kind of jewelry or not.
- Sterling silver is hypoallergenic. This means that it is very unlikely to cause contact dermatitis (a skin rash caused by contact with a certain substance).
Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction to the skin, and common causes include jewelry, cosmetics, soap, etc.
- It is durable.
- It is inexpensive compared to other precious metals.
- It has a neutral color, which makes it appropriate for all kinds of clothing.
- Low maintenance.
- It is easy to customize.
- There is no need to be concerned about your various jewelry clashing because sterling silver compliments the great majority of metals.
- It will eventually tarnish as a result of the copper content. However, this can be avoided by plating with rhodium or pure silver.
- Discoloration of the skin happens when tarnishing occurs in the jewelry.
Sterling silver is an incredibly good bargain. You get the luster of pure silver while ditching its softness.
However, you get some tarnishing in return. Regardless, not to worry; tarnishing in sterling silver is not a hard nut to crack.
Sterling silver complements other jewelry and fits in easily with any type of dress or environment because of its neutral shade.