Silver is a classic precious metal that has been used for jewelry throughout human history. Its brilliant white color is as beautiful as any other metal when cleaned and polished properly. It, along with gold, is soft enough for jewelers to shape but strong enough to last a lifetime.
What does Sterling Mean?
Sterling silver is the standard silver alloy used for jewelry. It is at least 92.5% pure silver, and the remaining 7.5% is usually copper. Hundreds of years ago, silversmiths found that if they mixed silver with other metals, it added some strength to their creations. In order to make sure that the silversmiths were still mostly making their pieces of silver and not cheaper metals, a legal standard was created that said that anything marked and sold as silver would need to be 92.5% pure silver.
What are the advantages of Silver in jewelry?
Silver is much less expensive then gold, is easy for jewelers to work with and repair, and has a thousand year old legacy as a metal of beauty, artistic quality, and value. It is naturally white and can look stunning as a mounting for colorful gemstones. Silver is also known for a wide variety of medicinal purposes and is naturally antibacterial; because of this very few people have any allergic reactions to silver.
What does it mean that silver tarnishes?
The main issue with using silver for jewelry is that it tarnishes. Tarnishing means that when silver is exposed to the air, it will slowly produce a small layer of silver sulfide on the outside, which is a blackish substance that will make the piece look dull if it isn’t cleaned off. Fortunately, silver can be cleaned in seconds by simply dipping the piece into silver cleaning solutions that are easy to find and cheap to purchase. At Silver City, we sell two varieties of silver cleaner that will last for years and only cost about $7 each.
Is there such thing as tarnish-free Sterling Silver? (the answer is No)
Some retailers sell sterling silver that they misleadingly say will never tarnish. The truth is that anything made of silver will tarnish if it is exposed to the air, as it is one of the chemical properties of the metal. In order to claim they have tarnish-free sterling, some manufacturers plate their sterling silver with a very fine layer of another white metal that doesn’t tarnish. This plating will usually only last months before the silver is exposed to the air, and the piece will begin to tarnish.
Why does some Sterling Silver look whiter than other Sterling Silver jewelry?
All sterling silver is the same color. Some retailers, unfortunately for their customers, will plate their sterling silver jewelry with a chrome-like metal to make it look shinier in the showcase. This plating will come off in months and is unable to be reapplied in any lasting way. The good news is that real sterling silver is naturally white and beautiful and only needs to be properly cleaned and polished to get as white and bright as the day you bought it.
Are there any other disadvantages to Sterling Silver in Jewelry?
Sterling silver is softer then gold, and it is very risky and inadvisable to set diamonds in it. Sterling silver also requires more heat to repair, which can sometimes cause complications if a sterling piece has gemstones in it that can’t be heated.