REGULAR SILVER VS. 925 STERLING SILVER-
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Here's a list of what you'll learn in this post:
- The different types of silver:
- What is pure silver?
- What is fine silver?
- What is 925 sterling silver?
- Is sterling silver real?
- How to tell if sterling silver is real:
- What is the difference between sterling silver and pure silver?
- How to keep sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing:
- How to clean silver jewelry:
You’ve probably heard of pure silver and sterling silver, but do you know the difference? Are they one in the same, or are there key distinctions that separate them? Well, buckle up and get ready for a crash course on all things silver!
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SILVER:
There is a wide variety of silver on the market, that it is easy to get confused when you hear terms such as sterling silver, silver plated, pure silver, fine silver, 925 silver, coin silver, nickel silver, and so on.
Metals like nickel silver, German silver, etc., complicate matters even further. The names of these metals imply that their pieces contain real silver content, but instead, they are comprised of metals like nickel, copper, and zinc.
Fine silver has a higher purity than silver alloy metals; thus, it will be more expensive than the less pure sterling silver (the most popular silver alloy mixture).
WHAT IS PURE SILVER?
Pure silver is an expensive, precious metal made from 100% silver content and is a very soft metal, making it easy to shape. However, because pure silver is an extremely soft metal, it scratches, dents, and warps out of shape easily, making it unsuitable for jewelry use. This is why pure silver is often mixed with metal alloys to harden it in order to improve its durability.
Pure silver is a hypoallergenic metal that is great for sensitive skin. It is hypoallergenic because it does not contain any other metals or alloys (such as the common allergen nickel) that could potentially cause an adverse reaction.
Pure silver is also naturally resistant to corrosion and rust, meaning it won't tarnish over time like other metals. Tarnishing usually results from alloys oxidizing with air, not pure metal.
WHAT IS FINE SILVER?
Fine silver has a bright, light metallic sheen, sometimes called "bright silver." However, it will naturally oxidize to a subtle grayish-black patina over time, which some find attractive. However, fine silver can also be plated with gold or rhodium to enhance its color and maintain its luster.
Fine silver jewelry is usually stamped with "999," ".999," or "99.9" to indicate that it consists of 99.9% pure silver content and 1% other metals. The other metals in fine silver are usually copper, which adds hardness and strength to the silver, allowing it to retain its shape better, or a small amount of nickel, which is added to prevent tarnishing.
Fine silver is a very soft metal (like pure silver) due to its high purity, so it is easily scratched, dented, and warped out of shape. Thus, it is not the best choice to wear on a regular basis. Plus, gemstones require a hard metal for their settings in order to protect them from damage. If the metal is too soft, gemstones will fall out of their settings leading to potential damage or loss.
Fine silver, however, is perfect for special occasion jewelry and can be crafted into beautiful pieces of wearable art. It's also a great choice for pendants and charms, as it doesn't require gemstone settings to look attractive.
WHAT IS 925 STERLING SILVER?
Sterling Silver means jewelry consists of 92.5% pure silver content and 7.5% other metals, usually copper or zinc, these added metal alloys make 925 sterling silver more durable than pure silver. Sterling silver is hard enough to support gemstone settings while also being pure enough to resist tarnishing.
IS STERLING SILVER REAL?
HOW TO TELL IF STERLING SILVER IS REAL:
1) FOR FOR A 925 MARK
Certified sterling silver will be stamped with the word "sterling" or "925.". The 925 stamp indicates that the jewelry is made up of 92.5% real silver, with the rest being other metals such as copper or nickel.
If it is there, that should be your first indication that the sterling silver jewelry you are looking at is authentic. Of course, this isn't a 100% guarantee as some counterfeiters may try to mimic this marking - but it's one of the easiest ways to tell if you have real silver.
2) HOLD A MAGNET TO STERLING SILVER
One of the oldest tricks in the book, this one is sure to help you determine if your sterling silver piece is real or not. If a magnet sticks to your 925 silver, then sorry to say - you've got a fake on your hands! True sterling silver pieces will never be attracted to a magnet. This is because sterling silver pieces contain only small amounts of other metals, such as copper and nickel, which won't be drawn to a magnet.
3) DOES IT SMELL LIKE STERLING SILVER?
If your jewelry smells strongly metallic, then your jewelry is not real sterling silver. Sometimes, counterfeit pieces of sterling silver jewelry can have a distinct smell. This is because the metals used to make fake jewelry are often cheaper materials that contain more alloys than genuine sterling silver.
4) CHECK THE PRICE TAG ON 925 SILVER:
Lastly, if you're still unsure whether your sterling silver piece is real, look at the price tag. Genuine sterling silver jewelry can be quite expensive due to the high quality of materials used and the labor costs associated with crafting it. If the price tag seems too good to be true - it probably is (and you most likely have silver-plated jewelry instead)!
5) TAKE YOUR STERLING SILVER JEWELRY TO A JEWELER:
If you still need to figure out the authenticity of your 925 silver jewelry, it's a good idea to take it to a local jeweler for an expert opinion. They will be able to tell you for sure if your sterling silver piece is real or not.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STERLING SILVER AND PURE SILVER?
925 sterling silver is an alloy made mostly of pure silver with a small percentage of copper and zinc content (7.5%) to strengthen it. In contrast, pure silver is very soft and less durable than sterling silver because it only contains .01% of harder alloy metals like copper and zinc.
However, these same alloys make sterling silver more easily tarnished than 100% pure silver.
HOW TO KEEP STERLING SILVER JEWELRY FROM TARNISHING:
There’s no way to completely eliminate tarnishing, but you can take steps to keep your sterling silver jewelry shiny for longer.
1) Avoid Chemical Cleaners:
Always avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals on your sterling silver jewelry. These can cause discoloration and damage the metal. Instead, use a mild solution of warm water and a few drops of dish soap to clean your jewelry. Wipe it with a soft cloth afterward and lay flat to air dry.
2) Use a Polishing Cloth Regularly:
Polishing cloths are a great way to keep your sterling silver jewelry looking shiny. Wipe down the jewelry with a soft polishing cloth to restore its luster and remove light tarnish.
3) Keep Your Sterling Silver Jewelry Dry:
To prevent sterling silver tarnish, you should try to keep it as dry as much as possible. This means avoiding wearing the silver pieces from your jewelry collection while swimming or bathing, as the saltwater found in oceans, the chlorine found in swimming pools, and the chemicals found in tap water can all speed up tarnishing. Likewise, remove any silver rings before washing dishes or engaging in other water-related activities.
4) Store Your Jewelry Properly:
When storing sterling silver, wrap it in an acid-free cloth to keep the air from touching it. You should also try to store your sterling silver jewelry in an airtight container, like a jewelry box. This will create a barrier between the silver and any outside contaminants that could cause tarnish buildup.
HOW TO CLEAN SILVER JEWELRY:
Water and dish soap is great at cleaning silver jewelry. First, dish soap contains surfactants, which allow the dish soap to penetrate grease and grime on your silver jewelry. Next, the water molecules attract dirt and grime, breaking it down and removing it from the surface of your silver. When combined, water+dish soap are two elements that make a powerful cleaning combination.
-All-Natural Dish Soap
-A Small Bowl
-A Soft, Cotton Cloth
STEP 1: Fill a small bowl with warm, fresh water and add a few tablespoons of all-natural dish soap.
STEP 2: Place your silver jewelry into the soapy water solution and soak it for 15 minutes.
STEP 3: Next, use a soft-bristle toothbrush to rub the tarnish off gently. Make sure you scrub all the silver metal, even in tight places where the tarnish might be hiding.
STEP 4: Rinse your jewelry pieces with fresh water. If your sterling silver still looks "dirty," repeat this process to remove any remaining tarnish.
STEP 5: After rinsing your silver jewelry, allow your pieces to air-dry on a soft cotton towel before placing them in storage. Remember to thoroughly dry your silver, as any remaining moisture can be harmful to the metal and cause tarnish stains.
Never use harsh paper (such as napkins, paper towels, etc.) to dry your silver pieces as abrasive material can cause light scratches to develop on the surface.
Now that you know how to tell if sterling silver is real and the difference between sterling silver and pure silver, it's clear why 925 sterling silver jewelry has become so popular. It's beautiful, durable, and affordable, and with a little extra care, it can last a lifetime. We hope this guide was helpful in understanding more about this classic jewelry material. Thanks for reading!