Open Your Jewelry Box
When it comes to jewelry, there are plenty of options. From the costume jewelry you buy on sale, to the investment pieces that have a lot of significance- there’s definitely a wide range in your jewelry collection. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. This may be the case with sterling silver and regular silver jewelry. You may not have even realized there is a difference between the two. What is the real difference if they’re both made with real silver? Have you stopped to ask yourself, "What Is Sterling Silver?"
What Is Sterling Silver?
So what is sterling silver? Sterling silver is defined as silver of 92.5% purity, with the rest being another metal, such as copper. This 7.5% of different metal actually improves the durability of the finished product. It’s not like the jewelry is just plated with silver that will rub off. Since fine silver is soft and malleable it is subject to bending and damage of the jewelry. What is sterling silver? Simply put, sterling silver is an alloy of pure silver.
What Are The Benefits Of Sterling Silver?
There are many benefits of turning fine silver, with about 99.9% pure silver, into sterling silver. This again is done by mixing in 7.5% of another metal: copper, iron or steel. Besides being less soft than pure silver, the alloy allows the items to retain the integrity of their shape. In addition to maintaining the integrity, its less expensive. You are essentially watering down the purity of the silver with less expensive metals to improve the strength.
Sounds Good! Any Drawbacks?
Some problems that may arise with sterling silver is tarnish. Silver, like gold, doesn’t really tarnish (although it does sometimes get black residue due to sulfur contact) but sterling silver can tarnish due to its sensitivity to water and air. You have seen silver utensils and plates that often look aged and darker in color. This is the oxidizing of the silver. Many Boho Jewelry looks actually play up on that tarnished look.
Keeping It Lustrous
The good news is that there are ways to keep sterling silver tarnish free, since alloy metals are more susceptible to tarnish. When buying sterling silver, try rubbing your finger over the metal. If you see smudges on your skin, it will probably get worse over time. It’s best to regularly wipe it off with a cloth, such as what you use for eyeglasses.
Also swap it out for other jewelry to keep it looking new, and don’t wear the items when swimming or showering as water can damage the product. You can read more about some jewelry cleaning secrets that we use for sterling silver.
Our favorite is actually Simple Shine for touch ups on the go.
Sterling Silver Uses
Sterling silver is used for many products. In addition to jewelry: earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets, silver is seen in a variety of other household product. Silverware, Plates, Cups, Bottles, Mirrors, Perfume holders, Hair clips, electronics, royal jewels and just about any decorative piece you can think of has used silver.
History of Sterling Silver
Sterling silver was widely valued in history. The Pound sterling is the official currency in the UK. The currency was originally valued by its weight of sterling silver. It was also used as currency and for trading in Colonial America. The quality of such items that included silver was seen as status symbols.
The concept is like wearing your money. LOL. Not far from what many people still do today with their jewelry. The mix of old sterling silver was similar to our standard today. The precedent in London was 91.5-92.5% silver and 8.5-7.5% copper (ref). Revolutionary Paul Revere was actually a highly regarded silversmith himself.
Sterling silver is still widely used and adored today. At Love & Pieces, we offer many Sterling Silver products for their quality and style.
The Kim Ring Silver is made with Sterling Silver, it’s a full finger ring which moves when you bend it. Or if you prefer something smaller, there’s the ¾ inches in width Silver Wander Ring which wraps easily around your finger and can be casual or dressed up depending on how you style it.
Or, if gold is more your color- you can get all the benefits of Sterling Silver with our Gold Plated Sterling Silver chain necklace by Meridian Avenue: Little Pave Bars Necklace.
Now You Know
So now you know. The next time someone tries to stump you, you are ready. When the question comes up.
"What is Sterling Silver?"
You can say what you currently say.
"I forget, but I know I read something about it once at Love & Pieces the amazing jewelry site." :)