Frequently Asked Jewelry Questions+Answers
Here are the answers to the most popular questions we receive regarding silver jewelry.
What is the Difference Between Pure Silver and 925 Sterling Silver?
Pure silver a.k.a fine silver contains 99.9% silver content, while 925 sterling silver is typically 92.5 percent silver. Pure silver is a very soft metal that makes pure silver unsuitable for jewelry making, as it can easily scratch and change shape. Copper and other metals are intentionally attached to pure silver in order to make silver tougher and more durable for jewelry use.
What’s the Difference Between Sterling Silver Jewelry and 925 Silver Jewelry?
Sterling silver is an alloy made up of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent consists of other metal alloys such as zinc, copper or nickel. Then the question remains: what is 925 silver? It's exactly the same thing as sterling silver. Both sterling silver and 925 silver are combinations of the same silver alloys, with the only key difference being their names.
Does Silver have an Impure Color when Mixed with Other Materials?
No. Although blended with other materials, sterling jewelry still manages to preserve the tone associated with pure silver.
How do I Know the Purity of my Silver Jewelry?
Sterling silver purity relates to an alloy's 92.5 per cent silver content. To authenticate its purity, silver metal typically travels to a laboratory for inspection. However most of the sterling silver jewelry created nowadays has a “.925”, “Ag925”, “Ster” or “Sterling Silver” stamp to prove the jewelry's authenticity. Even though there are instances where a pseudo mark exists and either the metal is not silver or the purity is not as listed. False marks are very uncommon.
What are the Types/Quality Levels of Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver refers to a particular grade of silver, because there is only one type of silver. If it says sterling silver, it's made of 92.5 percent silver. The only case in which the consistency of sterling silver will differ is in silver-plated jewelry.
How Can I Tell if my Jewelry is Made with Authentic 925 Sterling Silver?
Here are some straightforward ways to verify that your jewelry is genuine 925 sterling silver:
A) Magnet Test
Magnets have no impact on true silver. If a magnet is able to pull your jewelry with its magnetic pull, it's not made up of 925 sterling silver.
B) Jewelry Marks
As we mentioned earlier, authentic 925 sterling silver jewelry will have jewelry marks such as “925”, “.925”, “Ag925”, “Ster”, or “Sterling Silver” embedded somewhere on the jewelry item. If you can not find a marking, that is a big indicator that your silver jewelry is probably silver toned or silver plated jewelry i.e. not authentic silver.
Please note, this test is not 100% conclusive since a stamped jewelry item will sometimes contain a pseudo mark. This is sometimes used by devious people to trick jewelry consumers into purchasing pieces with inflated prices. Although not in accordance with government regulations, unmarked jewelry is sometimes authentic but this is unusual.
C) Acid Test
Purchase a silver testing solution kit. They are relatively affordable and easily available online. Next, find a file and start to file away at a small part of your jewelry in a discreet area. Next, add a few drops of testing solution a.k.a nitric acid to the spot. If the color of the acid turns a creamy white, the silver is pure or 925 sterling. If the acid color turns green, it's either fake or silver plated. Be cautious and always wear gloves and goggles when working with chemicals.
How do I Clean my Sterling Silver Jewelry?
Typically, a jeweler's polishing cloth (with two layers of cloth in different colors) bought from a jewelry store is sufficient. To clean sterling silver jewelry, don't use any hard object; even a rough paper towel might scratch the surface. Silver-dip is another commonly used cleaning solution for 925 jewelry. For half a minute to a minute, submerge all of your silver jewelry in the solution and then rinse with water. Before using silver dip, make sure your silver jewelry is not plated with any other metal or else you will damage the plating.
Can Silver Tarnish? Can Silver Rust?
Pure air and water does not impact silver, though it tarnishes quickly when exposed to air containing high levels of ozone, hydrogen sulfide or sulfur. (In the past 200 years, the amount of sulfur in the atmosphere has increased, meaning silver tarnishes faster than it did in pre-Industrial times.) Tarnish can easily be removed, however, and does not degrade the metal the way oxidation process known as rust destroys iron. The fact that silver is otherwise immune to the elements helps define it as a precious metal.
Where do I Store Sterling Silver Jewelry?
It is very important to store sterling silver jewelry correctly when it is not in use. The perfect place to store sterling silver jewelry is a cool spot, away from any sunlight. Heat and light will turn silver jewelry yellow and cause it to tarnish quickly. Even indoor light sources like florescent lights or light bulbs alter the color of silver jewelry over time. If you intend not to wear a piece for a long time, place it in an air-tight bag and keep it in a drawer.
How About Engraving and Resizing 925 Rings?
The engraving and resizing of sterling silver rings is a simple process due to the ductility and relatively low melting point. However, make sure your jeweler is aware of the refinishing process of the ring and that they have the necessary equipment to do so. After cutting and welding the ring, not all jewelers have the equipment to recoat the ring, thus leaving the ring in a half completed state.
Moreover, stone-set rings are a little more complex when it comes to resizing because stones can pop out during the resizing process. In addition to polishing and plating, stone-set rings will need resetting after the resizing is complete.
In conclusion, resizing is also most likely to remove a 925 ring mark, particularly if in the center of your band. No worries, a fresh 925 mark can easily be engraved again.
Can I Wear Sterling Silver Jewelry if I am Allergic to Nickel?
Yes, just make sure the jewelry is pure sterling silver, not nickel-plated. Sterling silver jewelry with rhodium plating includes a layer of nickel between silver and rhodium often as an adhesive. As an alternative, buy high-polished silver jewelry if you have a nickel allergy.
What Are the Different Types of Silver Plating?
Unlike gold and platinum, pure silver is unpredictable and oxides rather quickly. Therefore, silver jewelry is usually plated with another metal to protect it from tarnishing. There are two kinds of plating for silver jewelry: nickel and rhodium plating. Nickel plating has a whitish look and rhodium plating has a darker tint to it. Rhodium is commonly used to plate white gold and platinum jewelry because of its high price tag compared to nickel. Rhodium is costly because it offers better protection for the base metal.
Does Silver Plating Tarnish?
At some point, all silver-plated jewelry will tarnish, as everyday wear chemicals and the exposed silver layer react with air to alter a piece's color.
Why do Some Opt for Unplated Jewelry?
Some choose to leave their silver jewelry unplated. Highly polished 925 jewelry, for example, has no plating rather its surface is machine-polished to make it shine. This is to protect the wearer from possible negative allergic reactions. In addition, some jewelry buyers like the look of "oxidized silver", which undergoes oxidation on purpose to give it a dark antique look and is uncoated with other metals.
How is Silver Mined?
Concentrated deposits of silver are located in ores along with other metals, including lead, zinc, copper and gold, in various parts of the world, including Mexico, Peru and the United States. The natural process of rain and wind blowing repeatedly on silver bearing rocks and soil often diffuses silver into the atmosphere.
Can I Get Silver Jewelry Wet?
Yes, you can (if you know it's sterling silver). In general, water does not damage sterling silver. However, water does cause silver to oxidize (darken) faster and the kind of water and the chemicals in it determine how much silver color will change.
Can I Shower in My Sterling Silver Studs?
Shower water is generally fine - there aren’t any super harsh chemicals in tap water that would severely react with your sterling silver jewelry. The soap and water can even help wash away any residue from your skin and dirt in the air that can cause your silver to appear dull.
Is Pool Water Safe for my 925 Bracelet?
Swimming pools are a hazard. They usually contain chlorine and sterling silver reacts to chlorine. Depending on how much chlorine is in the water, if you swim regularly, you must also clean your 925 bracelet frequently.
Are Hot Tubs Safe for Silver?
In hot tubs, there is even more chlorine, plus it's hot. At higher temperatures, chemical reactions escalate, so try to remove your silver jewelry before jumping in. If not, you could find a color change for your jewelry that will require a lot of extra care and cleaning.
Can Salt Water Damage my Sterling Silver Bracelet Cuff?
Salt is corrosive and can also leave residue on your jewelry which needs removing. Take off your sterling silver bracelet cuff before getting into a pool, if you can. If you forget, try to rinse it with clean water immediately and completely dry it afterwards.
Is it Safe to Wear my Sterling Silver Necklace Pendant in a Hot Spring?
We suggest not wearing your sterling silver necklace pendant in any kind of hot spring. They often contain a lot of different minerals, especially sulfur. Jewelers use sulfuric acid to purposely oxidize silver jewelry, so you could be in for a major color change.
How do I Keep My Sterling Silver Bangle Bracelet Looking Great?
There's no way to stop tarnish but you can slow down the process. Despite buying a premium sterling silver bangle bracelet, it's going to tarnish over time regardless of its purchasing place. While this process is inevitable, there are some steps you may take to slow down the process and limit the amount of tarnishing that will naturally take place over time.
Protect jewelry from tarnishing with these helpful pointers:
1) Store Your Sterling Silver Jewelry Correctly
When not donning your fabulous jewelry, store it in a cool, dark and dry location. Preferably, place your silver jewelry in a poly bag with all of the air squeezed out of it. This will curb the amount of contaminants that the jewelry will be subject to.
2) Wipe Down Your Jewelry After Wearing It
Use a dry, gentle fabric and quickly clean off your jewelry after dressing up in it before putting it back in its correct storage place. This helps to halt harmful pollutants that jewelry may have come into contact with.
3) By All Means, Dodge Moisture
It's not a disaster if you forget to remove your silver jewelry before swimming in a poor or jumping into the shower. However, moisture will tarnish your jewelry in no time. Therefore, protect jewelry from tarnishing by keeping your jewelry dry and not leaving it sitting in a damp spot.
4) Clean Your Jewelry When it Starts to Tarnish
Instead of stashing away or throwing out your sullied jewelry, try wiping the tarnish away with a fresh, soft fabric cloth. If this does not rub out the smear, use a liquid tarnish remover. If this is still ineffective, it is time to send your tarnished jewelry to a professional polishing and replating house.
What is Italian Silver?
The term “Italian silver” or “Italian sterling silver” does not refer to a type of silver. It concerns, instead, the level of craftsmanship. Italy has a long tradition of quality jewelry production respected around the world.
What is Britannia Silver?
Britannia silver is a type of silver that was developed in Britain and is a 95.8 percent alloy.
What is Argentium Silver?
Argentium silver is a brand of non-tarnish silver alloy that like sterling is usually 92.5 percent silver.
We hope you have enjoyed our article. Do you have a question about silver that we missed? Please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try our best to include it.
What’s the Best Skin Tone for Sterling Silver?
Most skin tones may wear silver jewelry without it harshly clashing with their overall skin color, but cool, neutral skin tones glow when combined with silver. People with olive or warm coloring frequently look better with gold jewelry, but there is no reason why they can't wear silver if they choose. Any person with neutral coloring may wear either silver or gold jewelry.
How Long Will Sterling Silver Last?
For decades, solid sterling silver ought to last. Most sterling silver pieces can hold up amazingly well over the decades, even with normal, gentle polishing. The sterling silver jewelry pieces you purchase today will last long enough to pass down to your great-grandchildren and over the years they will also appreciate in value.
How Does Sterling Silver Compare to White Gold & Platinum?
A similar shimmering, gray look is found in sterling silver, white gold and platinum. Sterling silver, however, usually has a brighter tone than the two other metals.
Platinum is a delicate metal that quickly scratches. Both white gold and sterling silver are much tougher, scratch-resistant metals.
Sterling silver is the least expensive of the precious metals, making it a more affordable alternative for those who want high-quality jewelry without a dramatic price tag.
Sterling silver not a heavy metal. In fact, it is the lightest of all precious metals. While some people like the impression of heavy jewelry like platinum and gold, sterling silver is lightweight making it a sensible & comfortable choice for everyday wear.
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