6 Common Questions about Sterling Silver Answered

Posted by JewelryKind

Most high quality silver jewelry is made from sterling silver. You’ve probably heard of sterling silver, but you may not be quite sure what it is or how to take care of it. Since most of your silver jewelry purchases will likely be sterling silver, let’s talk about some of the most common questions people have about it.

1. What is “sterling” silver?
Sterling silver is a mixture of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. Since pure silver is too soft and weak to make good jewelry, the other metals are added to improve to the quality. All sterling silver has this composition– that’s what makes it “sterling.”

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2. What are the types/quality levels of sterling silver?
Sterling silver refers to a specific quality of silver, so there is only one “type”. If it says sterling silver, it is made of 92.5% silver. The only case in which the quality of sterling silver might vary is with silver-plated items.

3. How can I tell whether my silver is sterling or not?
Many sterling silver items will be stamped with .925 or another marking to indicate that it is sterling silver. Smaller items, such as jewelry, might or might not have these markings. Sterling silver jewelry less than 3 grams may not be marked .925, especially the smaller pieces such as bracelets, earrings, pendants, and very tiny rings or chains. This is because marking the small loop or clasp may result in damage to the jewelry piece. If you’re concerned that your jewelry might be silver-plated or have a lower percentage of silver, the best way to be sure is to take the piece to an experienced jeweler or other expert for examination.

4. What’s the best skin tone for sterling silver?
Most skin tones can wear silver without any clashing, but cool and neutral skin tones glow when paired with silver. People with olive or warm coloring often look best with gold jewelry, but there’s no reason why they can’t wear silver if they prefer. Anyone with neutral coloring can wear either type of jewelry. Jewelry that combines silver and gold allows anyone to wear either metal.

5. How do I take care of sterling silver?
Sterling silver is a relatively low-maintenance metal. Storing your silver pieces away from wood, rubber, and newspaper is a good way to avoid damage and tarnish. You can also reduce tarnishing by storing a piece of chalk in your jewelry box. If your jewelry needs to be cleaned, you can use commercial silver cleaner, use a home product such as vinegar or baking soda, or have it professionally cleaned. You can also seal your silver jewelry with clear nail polish or have a professional lacquer it. This can be a good idea for pieces that are frequently exposed to moist, wet air or worn by people whose body chemistry promotes tarnishing and skin-staining.

6. How long will sterling silver last?
Solid sterling silver should last for centuries. Even with regular, gentle polishing, most sterling silver pieces will hold up incredibly well over the decades. The sterling silver pieces you buy can be handed down to your great-grandchildren, and they will often appreciate in value over the years. Just make sure to get solid silver jewelry instead of silver plated, and your silver should hold up for a good long time.

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2 Comments

  1. Deepak Singh

    June 2, 2017 at 10:42 am

    What is more pure sterling silver or oxidized silver?

  2. Tom Berube

    June 8, 2017 at 8:40 am

    I have a sterling silver earing with a hallmark I can’t find. Need help figuring out what it is

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