Learn More About This Affordable Alternative to Expensive Jewelry
History of Sterling Silver
Silver jewelry has been a staple in lives of mankind since humans discovered versatility of silver and many uses it has. Silver has been used for functional and aesthetic purposes. In times of old, silver was used to create flatware and armor to protect soldiers on their way into battle. Silver jewelry was later created and used by Phoenician and Egyptian citizens desiring attractive and convenient pieces to add to their jewelry collections. Over time silver has been used to create flatware, decorative art, coins, dental fillings, jewelry and more.
Silver is produced in many different areas, though highest concentrations of silver output come from Mexico and Peru.
One of reasons sterling silver jewelry is so popular is its affordability and versatility. Sterling silver can be crafted into many different jewelry items including charms, rings and chains. Silver jewelry is often mistaken for other more precious metals including white gold and platinum.
Common Types of Silver
There are many different types of silver that can be used to create sterling silver jewelry. Silver is considered one of precious metals along with its cousins gold, platinum and titanium.
Fine Silver - this is silver in its most natural state, when it is considered 99% pure. Often this type of silver is too soft to create ordinary products and is almost liquid in form. Usually silver has to be mixed with other metal alloys in order to create jewelry and household wear.
Sterling Silver - sterling is a mixture of fine silver and other metal alloys. The silver is considered about 92.5% pure. Sterling is usually combined with approximately 7.5% copper to make jewelry more long lasting and durable. Sterling silver jewelry is usually marked on inside with a "925", indicative of its purity. Sterling silver jewelry made of just right combination of silver and metal allows a jeweler to create a long lasting, durable piece that is shiny and brilliant enough to be mistaken for more expensive precious metals. Sterling silver is more likely to tarnish over time because of presence of copper; however this relatively mild side effect can be minimized through proper care. By consistently cleaning your silver jewelry you'll never even notice anything other than a beautiful shine and luster.
Silver Plating - plating occurs when a base metal such as nickel is covered with a layer of pure silver. This is often one of most durable forms of silver, and is usually much less expensive than sterling silver because percentage of pure silver in jewelry is quite low. Most base metals need a re-coat of pure silver every few years to maintain a shiny outer coat and to prevent base metal from peaking through coating.
Nickel Silver - nickel silver is a combination of nickel, copper and zinc that is not actually silver, but resembles silver. It is an inexpensive and popular item that can be used to create look-alike jewelry.
Vermeil - this form of silver was popular in eighteenth century. Silver is plated in gold, providing a polished and expensive looking custom piece of jewelry.
Caring for Silver Jewelry
Sterling silver jewelry does have a tendency to scratch more often than other metals, and may tarnish over time. Proper care can ensure however that jewelry remains shiny and well kept. The following tips will ensure that your sterling silver lasts a long time and maintains its luster and original appearance: