Sterling silver is an alloy containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. This is why sterling silver is popularly referred to as 925 Silver. Pure silver is a very soft metal that is easily formed and deformed. Fine silver has a higher purity percentage of 99.9% which will make it more expensive compared to the less pure sterling silver. However, sterling silver still looks just as good as fine silver.
Due to its strength and beauty, sterling silver is more durable. Pure silver is very soft just like gold, making it a poor choice for an everyday ring, such as an engagement one or wedding band. The addition of copper makes the silver strong.
Sterling silver rings can be polished or coated in rhodium to become tarnish-resistant. Rhodium is a member of the platinum metal family, and as a coating, it gives sterling silver jewellery a high-gloss finish.
It is highly advised to store sterling silver jewellery in a cloth pouch or individual compartment in a jewellery box to prevent it from scratching. Bleach, ammonia and chlorine can damage or discolour sterling silver rings as it is highly reactive. One should be sure to remove sterling silver jewellery before handling common household cleaning chemicals, hair products and before swimming in a chlorinated pool or hot tub.
Over time, sterling silver jewellery is prone to tarnishing or lose its shine as it is exposed to natural elements in the air. A quick polish using a nonabrasive or a microfiber cloth will restore the lustre without leaving scratches. Regular cleaning is required to keep silver shining. With reasonable care, silver jewellery can last for decades. Silver is the most affordable of the precious metals. This makes it ideal for costume jewellery and larger statement pieces.
Silver is hypoallergenic and can be worn by people who have metal allergies and skin sensitivities. However, sometimes the metals in silver alloys, such as nickel or zinc, can cause skin irritations. If this is a concern, it’s best to check what metals the alloys contain prior to purchasing.
Here are some tips to help you tell if your jewellery is genuine sterling silver
There is a “925” hallmark engraved on the jewellery
Hold your jewellery next to a magnet, if it is drawn to the magnet, it is fake. Genuine sterling silver is not magnetic
Rub your jewellery lightly with a soft, light coloured cloth. If black marks appear on the cloth, it is genuine. Real silver oxidizes when exposed to air this creates the tarnish that appears on the cloth when it is rubbed.
Blog By:Sanelisiwe Moyo