Humans have long been beguiled by the wondrous sparkle of silver. Its beauty is often compared to that of the moon. Silver jewellery has found its undisputed place in the segment of new age jewellery. From the red carpets to the runways to the streets, turn your head and you will definitely found someone donning a piece of this lustrous metal.
Back in the days, silver held much more value, in the European societies silverwares were status symbols. It was used in the currency and of course for ornamental purposes. According to various cultures, silver is the traditional metal that is used to celebrate one’s achievements, milestones and ceremonies.
But how much do we actually know about this shiny metal? What is sterling silver? Is sterling silver actual silver? Why does silver jewellery tarnish and how do we take care of it?
As we have been designing and creating silver and sterling silver jewellery pieces for many years, we will guide you through all your questions and assumptions. Let’s get started:
What is Silver?
Silver is very similar to gold and copper in its composition and characteristics. It is a very soft, ductile and malleable metal that also needs a very high polish for lustre. Although when compared to gold, silver isn’t much for hardness it still has many uses, especially when alloyed with other metals to make it harder.
Since the prehistoric period, silver is known to be one of the seven metals of antiquity that was widely used. The others being gold, copper, tin, lead, iron and mercury. As the metal has been in use for ages there is no evidence of how it was discovered or its early use. Many historians have conjectured that silver was particularly used for ornaments and in the making of weapons as well.
Silver is known to be a very reactive metal when compared to gold and it was also harder to extract from its ores when mined. This also meant that in ancient times the supplies of this metal were rarer and therefore it was more expensive. Silver mining, later on, became an easy process around 1500 BC when the Egyptians discovered new methods of refining and extracting the metal.
Today silver has become considerably inexpensive than gold, which has lesser deposits and more difficult to mine.
What is Sterling Silver?
The purity of fine silver is 99.9%. Silver in its pure form is very beautiful, shiny and does not suffer from tarnishes. But crafting jewellery ornaments or anything is very tough, as silver is too soft and malleable.
Hence fine silver is alloyed with copper to create sterling silver which sports a combination of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of copper. The percentage of fine silver is why sterling silver is referred to as 925 silver and also is hallmarked with a 925 stamp. The copper mixed with the silver makes it harder and more durable and is much better to work with when crafting jewellery pieces. Also copper does not compromise the colour of silver. Most silver jewellery that you buy nowadays is generally crafted in sterling silver.
The only downside to using sterling silver pieces is that the added copper in them cause them to tarnish more and over time the metal turns dark brown or black. This process is quicker if the pieces are exposed to humid conditions or water. However, it is very easy to clean sterling silver pieces, one can also get it polished which is a part of the upkeep of these. Taking proper care of your sterling silver jewellery items will also help them not lose their shine and won’t rush the perishing process.
Sterling Silver Jewellery
Nowadays, sterling silver has become an excellent choice for ornaments. With the rising prices of gold, sterling silver has become a budget-friendly alternative. More and more jewellery designers are getting inclined to curate pieces of this metal due to its good quality. The metal stays lustrous for a longer time and with good care, it will not rust and will look great even in future. Silver jewellery is also known to be the best heirloom pieces that you can pass on to your succeeding generations. Although the softness of sterling silver makes it unsuited to precious gemstone settings. And because it is malleable it needs a bit more care.
Despite its cons, sterling silver has become a major part of the fashion industry on a very big scale. With the market fluctuations and the rising prices of gold, sterling silver has become a viable option for those who don’t want to spend a fortune on ornaments. Jewellery designers all over the world are coming with contemporary and trendier options to enhance the appeal of sterling silver and increase their sales.
Unlike other fashion jewellery, sterling silver is marked to be the safest of options as it is skin-friendly. It can be worn without any adverse effects no matter the age of a person.
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How to check the authenticity of real silver?
There are many ways to check if the silver one is selling is authentic or not. In many cases, the jewellery items are hallmarked or stamped with 925 in sterling silver and 999 in fine silver. One may also encounter the stamps SS or FS to represent the purity of the metal.
However, not all silver jewellery is hallmarked or stamped. While selling a jewellery item without the hallmark stamp is illegal in certain countries, it is also to be noticed that countries like Australia do not have any legal requirement to follow the same.
So how else one can work out if the silver is real or not?
Well, one of many tests is to use a strong magnet, preferably a rare-earth neodymium magnet. If the magnet completely joins the metal, then it is not silver and the piece might only be silver plated. Although there are many metals that are not magnetic so this can not be a very definite test.
One other interesting but risky way to check is to use a tiny amount of chlorine bleach on the metal and wait for a reaction. Silver including silver plating will generally turn brown or black in the presence of the bleach as it corrodes the metal.
Tips to take care of your Silver Jewellery
These tips will help you to use your jewellery for longer periods of time without ruining them:
- Do not wear any fashion jewellery including silver or sterling silver jewellery in showers, swimming pools, etc. as it will ruin the polish and cause the piece to turn dark.
- Do not use perfume over any jewellery as the chemical and alcohol in it will damage the pieces.
- Always remember, jewellery is the last thing one should wear while getting dressed and the first thing to take off when home.
- Keep your jewellery items in separate boxes to avoid scratches on the surface.
- Do not use harsh chemicals while cleaning them.
- Do not use hard brushes to clean the pieces always use a soft cloth to gently clean the surface.
If you follow these instructions, your sterling silver jewellery will definitely last for a lifetime. With its many unique characteristics, it is indeed a valuable addition to your collection. The elegance, class, longevity and versatility make silver jewellery an excellent choice.
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