Used for ornamental trinkets and even the coins in your pocket, there's more to silver than meets the eye. Although our favourite use for this popular precious metal is to create beautiful jewellery items, we thought we'd put together a helpful 'Guide to Sterling Silver', to share with you all we know about this rather wonderful material.
Sterling silver is an alloy metal. This means it's a mixture of pure silver and at least one other metal, as pure silver alone is too soft a metal to make things with. Silver is most commonly combined with copper to create the sterling silver alloy that most modern silver jewellery items are made from. When it is transformed it into an alloy, the resulting sterling silver is much stronger and longer lasting, making it perfect for crafting precious keepsakes and gifts.
So, if you've ever wondered 'what is sterling silver made of?', there's your answer.
If you've ever been out shopping for earrings or a necklace, you might have needed to think about what silver is best for jewellery or maybe even asked 'is sterling silver good for jewellery?'. When it comes to jewellery making, sterling silver is a much better material to work with. Fine silver is far too soft and impractical to make durable and wearable jewellery pieces.
You usually tell if sterling silver has been used to make a piece of jewellery, based on the silver stamp which can be found hidden discreetly somewhere on the item.
Sterling silver marks and numbers are often used to indicate the place of origin, and also the quality of the piece. One of the most common silver markings on jewellery is the 925 symbol. The 925 sterling silver symbol represents the amount of fine silver content in the item, and is the minimum standard of quality for the metal alloy.
Some other silver jewellery pieces may actually be silver plated. This type of jewellery is formed by a thin coating of sterling silver over a base metal. In time, this plating may chip away through regular wear and tear and polishing, exposing the non-precious metal underneath.
Because sterling silver is so durable, you can wear it daily without it losing it's shape or shine. In fact, wearing your sterling silver piece routinely can help prevent it from tarnishing too much. And, if you've ever asked 'can you wear sterling silver jewellery in the shower?' the answer is 'yes, you can'. Sterling silver can tolerate a certain amount of exposure to water, but you will need to ensure you take proper care of your jewellery at other times, so it doesn't lose its sparkle.
When exposed to the air and skin oils, sterling silver is prone to tarnishing. Tarnished sterling silver jewellery acquires a dull black or brown coating on the surface over time, but with a bit of polishing you can restore its shine quite easily.
Sterling silver jewellery doesn't require a huge amount of upkeep, but you should at least be mindful of day to day activities which could leave your jewellery vulnerable to scratches. Tiny scratches can build up with prolonged wear affecting the appearance and dulling the surface.
If you're wondering 'how do you keep sterling silver jewellery from tarnishing?', polishing your item from time to time will help to remove and prevent the build up of a tarnished surface.
And if you want to know 'how do you clean sterling silver naturally?', a firm rub with a simple jewellery cleaning cloth will help to keep everything looking sparkling and as good as new. Or if the tarnish is really stubborn, try a quick soak in a water and baking soda mixture before rubbing over with a microfibre cloth to lift off very tough surface stains.
At Britten Anthology we have a stunning selection of shiny sterling silver earrings, sterling silver necklaces, and sterling silver bracelets for you to choose from. We've cute and quirky designs perfect for every day wear, and those 'something special' pieces for a hint of luxury.