Are you wondering what is sterling silver? If yes, you should check out our guide right here on the key things to understand.
You probably have sterling silver in your jewelry collection, but have you ever wondered what it is? It’s a common material for rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings—and there are plenty of reasons why people love it. It’s also a popular choice for jewelers to create unique pieces or complete jewelry lines.
Many sterling pieces look like high-end jewelry at a fraction of the cost. What makes it a more affordable option than other precious metals? Why do people enjoy sterling silver so much?
If you’re wondering “what is sterling silver,” keep reading to learn nine key facts about this versatile, durable, and gorgeous metal!
1. It’s An Alloy
Being an alloy metal doesn’t make it any less popular! Sterling silver is 92.5 percent pure silver mixed with 7.5 other metals, like copper.
Because it’s not 100% pure silver, sterling silver pieces are often a fraction of the cost compared to gold or pure silver jewelry. However, that small percentage of other metals gives sterling silver more strength and durability without taking away from its beauty. It’s an excellent choice for a piece that shines and lasts a lifetime.
2. It Tarnishes
Like other precious metals, sterling silver will tarnish over time. Depending on how you store your sterling silver pieces, you can prevent significant tarnishing.
As with other types of metal jewelry, periodic cleaning with a jewelry polish and soft cloth can remove tarnish and keep it from building up or ruining your favorite pieces.
3. Its Finish Gives It a Shine
Sterling silver isn’t naturally shiny. One of our favorite sterling silver facts tells us how it gets its shine!
The flashing process makes your sterling silver jewelry sparkle and shine. Jewelers apply a thin layer of .999 fine silver or rhodium to finish a piece. This layer adds extra shine and helps prevent tarnish on your jewelry. Whether you’re looking for a single piece or wholesale sparkle, the type of metal used for flashing can change the final appearance.
4. It’s Susceptible To Chemicals
While sterling silver pieces are incredibly durable, they aren’t indestructible. Some household cleaners and chemicals can tarnish or ruin your favorite pieces.
Remove your jewelry when using bleach or ammonia for cleaning. Avoid wearing your favorite sterling silver pieces when swimming in chlorinated water. Saltwater can also corrode sterling silver.
Have you noticed an increase in tarnish after using hair spray or perfume? The chemicals in these products can also be harmful to sterling silver jewelry. To protect your favorite pieces, do your hair and makeup, then add your jewelry as the finishing touch to your outfit.
5. It Needs Careful Storage
It’s easy to wear sterling silver jewelry almost all the time without thinking anything of it! This alloy jewelry is safe to wear when washing hands or bathing, and it’s resistant to some types of damage that can happen more easily to softer metals.
However, to help minimize scratches and keep your sterling silver pieces in excellent condition, consider storing them in separate compartments in your jewelry box. Placing sterling silver pieces in a soft pouch can also prevent scratches and tarnish while storing your jewelry.
6. It Can Irritate the Skin
For most people, wearing sterling silver will not cause any skin irritation. It’s often recommended for people who have reactions to cheaper metals.
However, sterling silver can cause skin irritation for some people—but it might not be the silver itself. The type of metal used in the final flashing or plating process could be the culprit causing skin irritation. When wearing a piece that doesn’t sit well with your skin, find out more about the flashing.
Whether it’s .999 silver or rhodium flashing, or copper or nickel plating, find out if you have an allergy to any of those metals. When you determine the wrong finishes for your skin, avoid sterling silver with the metals that cause irritation for you!
7. It’s Strong
We mentioned the durability of sterling silver, but it’s also strong! Many people prefer sterling silver over pure silver because it’s strong than the pure metal.
Jewelry made of 100% pure silver will show scratches and dents easier than a sterling piece. In the right conditions, pure silver jewelry can also bend out of shape. The “alloy” part of sterling silver gives it more strength without detracting from the beauty of silver jewelry.
The strength of sterling silver means you find it in other things besides jewelry! Sterling silver cutlery is beautiful and durable. Just make sure you keep an eye on the tarnish by keeping your cutlery well-polished.
8. It’s Not a Good Investment
When you hear of people investing in silver, it’s probably not sterling silver. Because it’s not a pure metal, the value of sterling silver jewelry can vary widely.
Sterling silver jewelry is beautiful, popular, and can range in price from low-end pieces to more expensive designer pieces. However, if you thought your sterling silver jewelry collection would be as profitable as investing in pure silver, you might be disappointed.
Depending on the price of silver on a given day, the value of your sterling jewelry can fluctuate more than pure silver prices. You might make some money by selling your more expensive sterling silver pieces, but don’t plan on it to fund your retirement.
9. It Often Has Assayer’s Marks
Are you curious about the origins of your sterling silver pieces? Check for the assayer’s marks. These unique stamps can tell an experienced jeweler the country of origin for your favorite pieces.
What Is Sterling Silver? A Beautiful Way To Wear Silver
What is sterling silver? It’s a beautiful way to wear silver jewelry! When choosing sterling silver, you might also save some money compared to purchasing pure silver pieces.
Enjoy the strength and shine of sterling silver jewelry! With proper care and cleaning, your favorite pieces can last a lifetime.
We hope you found this information helpful! Be sure to check out more of our Fashion Gone Rogue content.