October 20, 2015

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silver

You may have noticed that most of the jewelry that I make is sterling silver.  That’s because I just love the look of silver.  It’s classic and modern at the same time, and it coordinates well with both casual and dressy outfits.

Silver really is an amazing material.  Like gold, pure silver is too soft to make jewelry.  To increase its strength and help it keep its form, additional metals are added to the silver.  This creates an alloy.  (See – I do use my science background!)    

Sterling silver (the kind that I use) is 925 parts per thousand – or 92.5% – silver.  The other 7.5% is made up of other metals, usually copper.  Copper is the most common metal to add to pure silver when creating jewelry, and it gives sterling silver extra strength.  

Fine silver, on the other hand, is 99.9% pure silver.  That sounds good, but it’s actually terrible when it comes to making large objects or things that are used all the time.  Fine silver is just too easy to bend, scratch, or damage.  That’s why sterling silver is used in household items, kitchen goods, and musical instruments, as well as jewelry.  Up until about 50 years ago, it was used to make surgical instruments because of its antibacterial properties! (Saw this on the web when I looked up how recently silver was used for surgical instruments … but we can take it out if you don’t like it.)

BUT – even sterling silver needs to be cared for the right way if you want to keep it looking its best. 

Sterling silver can tarnish over time when exposed to the open air, so it’s good practice to keep it in a jewelry box or cloth bag when you’re not wearing it.


Tarnished Rings

After a good polishing!

You can prevent damage or discoloration by avoiding contact with any household chemicals and removing your jewelry before swimming (or showering???).

Remember how I said that sterling silver is made from a combination of pure silver and copper?  If you have a sensitivity to copper, this can cause your jewelry to turn colors or your skin to turn green.  That’s something you don’t want!  But using a polishing cloth regularly should help prevent this problem.

So show your silver some love, and it should look keep looking great for years to come.