Sterling silver is also popularly known as ‘sterling silver 925’ or simply ‘925 Silver’. It is a metal, which consists of 92.5% pure silver (which is why it gets its name as sterling silver 925) and 7.5% alloy that can include other metals such as zinc, copper etc.
How is Sterling Silver different from 'Pure Silver'?
The major difference between the two metals is that pure silver has almost 99.9% of actual silver in it unlike, sterling silver 925 which as 92.5% actual silver in it.
Silver isn’t a durable metal in its pure form that is why it has a 0.1% of other metals such as copper mixed in it. This addition adds a little hardness, making it stiff enough to make silver jewelry pieces.
However, when it comes to designing complicated jewelry pieces jewelers prefer sterling silver as it is more durable. It can be bent and/or melt easily which makes it even more preferred among designers. Unlike pure silver, it is much harder and remains stiff for a longer period.
Why choose 'Sterling Silver'
There are many reasons why sterling silver is preferred to make ornaments and some of such reasons are stated as below:
- Health Benefits: Historically silver has been used for its antimicrobial properties such as wound healing, fighting flue & bacterial infections.
- Durability: The durability of sterling silver is unquestionable and with good maintenance it is long lasting. It may seem like a big investment at first but is totally worth it.
- Trendy: Sterling silver is always in the trend as many latest jewelry pieces include sterling silver. One of the most preferred base metals for designer jewelry.
- Variety: Sterling silver is included in various jewelry pieces therefore you have numerous options to choose from. You can keep updating your jewelry collection.
- Harmless on your skin: Many metals can irritate your skin and leave rashes on it however; original sterling silver is proven completely harmless and will never irritate your skin.
- Low maintenance: Sterling silver does not require high maintenance and will not leave its color for a long time. You can also get it cleaned easily and it will shine like its brand new.
- Preferred metal for plated jewelry: Sterling silver is also the most preferred metal for jewelry pieces that are eventually plated with other precious metals such as gold, since it is the quality of base metal that determines the longevity of the gold plating.
Identifying the original sterling silver
Identifying original sterling silver is extremely important because there ate enough fake silver items sold very commonly in market today which can drain your investment. There are many ways to check the original sterling silver and some of them are mentioned below:
- One way of testing is to rub the jewelry piece on a clean white cloth. If it leaves marks on that cloth then you can sigh as it is made up of real sterling silver. This test may sometimes not work well when your silver jewelry has been given an additional ‘Rhodium’ plating for an extra shine.
- Another simple way is to sprinkle a few drops of nitric acid on sterling silver jewelry piece. If the jewelry piece loses its color then it means that it is fake. Otherwise, the drops will turn into cream color without removing its original color.
- Conducting a magnet test can also be helpful. Original sterling silver will not be attracted towards the magnet as silver unlike other metals remain unaffected with magnet
- Real sterling jewelry usually has a hidden mark for its purity. So, make sure you check for it before making any purchase.
How to clean, care and store
- Use a soft cloth to clean sterling silver jewelry. Avoid putting too much force on the silver items that have thin wires. Rub gently along the grains of silver and not circular.
- Wear & clean the jewelry more often so that there is no room for occurrence of tarnish. Intermittent cleaning by professionals can ensure less damage to the silver in long run.
- Usage of liquid cleaners can damage the surface of sterling silver. To ensure longevity use a clean soft cloth.
- Also avoid contact of hairspray & lotion. Be on a safer side and not to cause any damage to the jewelry, wear it in the last.
- Exposure to air can cause silver to tarnish; hence sterling silver must be stored in dry/cool and air tight space such as ziplock bags, tightly sealed boxes.
- If the jewelry is going to be stored for a longer time, put in a sachet of silica or a piece of chalk as this will avoid moisture.
- Avoid wearing while Swimming, showering, sunbathing or working out are few of the places to be avoided wearing your sterling silver.
- Also avoid contact with food that are acidic.