Not all silver items are ‘sterling’ silver, but that’s the type of silver you’ll see most often on the market today. It’s a versatile metal, and although silver prices have gone up in recent years, silver jewelry is still more affordable than styles crafted from gold or platinum.
We’ll help you learn about silver — buying advice, its care, and cleaning, and some of the history behind this precious metal.
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1. What is Sterling Silver?
The silver jewelry we buy isn’t made from pure silver because silver used alone is too soft to create durable pieces. Instead, it’s most commonly mixed with copper to give it added strength (although there’s a platinum enhanced sterling silver out there, too).
Sterling silver is a mix of about 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other alloys. Get the facts about sterling silver, including the U.S. government’s requirements that dictate what can and cannot be labeled as silver.
2. How to Clean and Polish Silver Jewelry
When your sterling silver jewelry begins to look dull, it’s time to break out the polish before it begins to tarnish. See how to clean and polish silver to stave off oxidation and keep it shining like new.
In this article, Rachel Bitan explains why silver gets that tarnish we’re all familiar with and shares advice about removing the tarnish. Her motto is ‘less is more.’
Get ready to learn techniques that are specific to the type of jewelry you’re polishing. Rachel explains exactly how to polish your silver in ways that protect its true appeal and its value.
3. Is Sterling Silver Safe for My Skin?
While it may be fine for healed piercings, sterling silver is not a good metal for new body piercings. But don’t worry, we have a list of metal alternatives that are safe and won’t put you at as high of a risk of infection.
Sterling silver may also be a poor choice for you if you have certain skin allergies or sensitivities. If you notice skin discoloration from wearing silver jewelry, it could because your jewelry is too overly tarnished. Be sure you keep your jewelry clean and polished. Store it in a dry, dark environment without any other jewelry, preferably in a felt pouch.
However, if you’ve done all these things and you still have a reaction, it may be best to avoid silver altogether.
4. How to Identify Sterling Silver and Buy
The most important part of knowing what your jewelry is made out of is learning how to find and identify the jewelry’s markings.
We’ve compiled some resources to help you Learning about silver hallmarks that can help you identify age and maker of a silver item.
If you’re in the market for some silver jewelry, the first thing to do is be familiar with different types and ages of silver. All modern sterling silver jewelry should have a marking of 925 or Sterling. Older silver jewelry may not be marked.
One way to decipher between solid silver jewelry and silver plated jewelry is by examining any joints or areas for wear. If you notice a different color metal coming through (not just tarnish or discoloration), that means the item is silver plated.