No matter how far you travel, you will never stop seeing sterling silver jewelry. It's popular around the world, lending a sparkle to everything.
It is the brightest precious metal of them all, and over the years its value has consistently risen. For hundreds of years, it was used to make everything from tableware to medical equipment. Over the past few decades, these uses have really dropped off leaving basement low prices that brought new purchasers to the market.
The resurgence of its popularity in the jewelry industry has allowed for a large variety of choice when it comes to choosing a design for your custom jewelry.
Because it isn't as expensive as platinum and gold, those new to the jewelry making game are able to cast their designs for a fraction of the price, allowing more designers to premiere their products on websites like Pinterest and Etsy. Today there are thousands of independent artisans that are able to sell their wares in this way.
High-end designers are following the silver trend as well, creating an abundance of beautiful pieces that are set with precious stones.
But as beautiful as your sterling silver jewelry can be, managing its condition can be a little challenging. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about sterling silver jewelry.
1. What Sterling Silver Jewelry Really Is
When people began to use silver for housewares and jewelry, they found that the 99.9 percent pure metal was bendable and very soft. It would also tarnish quickly.
So in order to combat the negative effects of oxidation, additional metal alloys were added to the silver to create what we know today as sterling silver.
The most common metal added to silver is usually copper, though other metals could be added. This is meant to slow down the tarnishing process.
2. How to Properly Care for Sterling Silver Jewelry
When you have purchased a piece of jewelry made from sterling silver, you will want to take some special precautions. Although wearing it while you wash dishes with soap and water can be a great way to clean it, you will want to remove your jewelry before using any harsh cleaning products.
When you are not wearing your jewelry, you should store it in sealable plastic bags to slow down the oxidation process of the silver.
3. Identifying Vintage Sterling Silver Jewelry
Great jewelry is often overlooked by shoppers that do not have the proper knowledge to identify quality products.
Fortunately, there are several markings unique to silver that you can look for on vintage pieces. You will want to take a magnifying glass along, some of these markings can be very small.
Some of the most common markings you might find are:
- 800 - When a piece is marked 800, that means that it is what is referred to as "coin silver". This means that it is made up of twenty percent alloy, and only eighty percent silver.
- In the United States, jewelry must be marked a .925 to be sterling silver. That means that it is 92.5 percent pure.
- .950 is slightly more concentrated, and often found in older, vintage pieces of jewelry.
- If the piece is marked .835, you can assume that it is older European silver, at one point it was the standard.
- Anything marked with a "T" and followed by a number can be assumed to be from Mexico, and crafted sometime since 1970. In Mexico, they refer to this silver as "plata".
- Countries of origin are also sometimes marked, although today paper tags seem to suffice in recently created pieces.
- If you are still unsure about the silver content of your purchase, an acid test kit can be used. Though, most of the time this is completely unnecessary because when you know what you are looking for it is very easy to identify.
4. Preventing Tarnish
Retailers sell strips that can be placed inside of your sealable plastic bags to prevent tarnishing. They should be periodically changed to maintain the proper conditions.
If you can't find the fancy no-tarnish strips, using basic blackboard chalk will work in a similar way. They can absorb airborne impurities that might have contributed to tarnishing your silver.
5. Storing Your Sterling Silver Jewelry
As mentioned earlier, jewelry that is made of sterling silver should avoid exposure to oxygen while it is being stored. Using plastic bags has been recommended by many jewelers to slow the oxidation process.
6. Allergies and Reactions
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to twenty percent of people are allergic to nickel. Luckily, the alloys used in sterling silver only include copper, germanium, platinum, and zinc.
You can be confident that wearing your sterling silver jewelry will never cause your skin harm.
7. Price and Weight
Silver is a relatively heavy metal and its weight can be felt the moment you pick it up. However, lighter pieces are not necessarily of lower quality than their heavier counterparts.
You will also want to check it for cracks or loose stones. Depending on the conditions that the piece has been stored in, it may have faced some damage.
Looking for a Ring
Sterling silver is truly one of the most beautiful metals that jewelry is made out of today. It glints off the necks of women and men all over the globe.
Rings made of sterling silver are also incredibly popular. Today, some women will use this metal in their wedding rings as a substitution for white gold. Many would say that they couldn't see a difference.
Beyond wedding rings, however, sterling silver can be used to create a variety of custom designed rings. It has been used for hundreds of years to create detailed and beautiful products all over the world.
In particular, bikers have a special affinity for silver. Perhaps it reminds them of the sparkling chrome of their bike.
Whatever the reason, if you want to find a ring that will make you glow with pride, visit us today!