Understanding your Silver
Silver is a popular jewelry choice and is ideal for every day wear. Silver is slightly harder than other precious metals meaning that it is better able to take the knocks and bumps of day to day living.
It is less costly than other precious metals which means that many jewelry designers are able to offer a wide range of styles in silver.
Advantages of Sterling Silver
In addition to sterling's beauty, there are many reasons to purchase jewelry made from this precious metal.
Sterling silver is hypoallergenic. It's a great choice if your skin reacts to other materials like nickel.
Sterling is one of the most durable precious metals, which means that it's an excellent option for delicate filigree, as well as pieces that receive regular wear.
Jewelry made from sterling silver will hold its value, since the metal itself is precious. This may not be true for costume jewelry made from brass and other materials.
Sterling is considerably less expensive than gold, platinum, and other precious metals.
Understanding Sterling Silver Alloy
The word "sterling" means that the jewelry is not pure silver. In order to enhance the durability of the material, manufacturers add other metals to silver. These can include copper, zinc, and other materials.
Identifying Genuine Sterling Silver
Silver jewelry must contain 92.5% pure silver to be so classified, it will be labeled "Sterling Silver" or "925." This makes genuine sterling jewelry easy to identify.
Understanding the metal content of your piece can help you make sure you get the quality for which you're paying. Metal content stamps are found near the clasp on necklaces and bracelets, on the inside surface of rings, and on the backs of earrings, pins, and brooches.
Jewelry marks represent the metal content of the piece. This is important because silver-plated and sterling silver items look virtually identical to the untrained eye.
Legal Requirements for Metal Stamps on Jewelry
Jewelry manufacturers, specifically those based in the United States must inform the consumer about precious metal content, but the content doesn't actually have to be stamped on the piece. It can be on the appraisal accompanying the item, on a hang tag or packaging component, or on the invoice or receipt for the purchase.
If the manufacturer does stamp the piece with metal content, they are required to place their trademark or the retailer's trademark right next to the metal content stamp. Legally, this assures the consumer that the company making or selling the jewelry will stand behind the metal content they are identifying.
There is no legal stamping requirement for non-precious metals, such as tungsten, stainless steel, and titanium
Types of Metal Markings
They work as follows and includes those found on gold
Marking and what It Means
A number, followed by "k" or "karat": The item is gold. The purity of the gold varies by the karat number, with "24k" being nearly solid gold and "10k" being 10/24 gold.
Gold-filled" or "GF: The piece is mostly made of base metal, but it has a sheet of gold on the surface.
Gold-plated" or "gold electroplate: The piece is made of base metal, and a very thin coating of gold has been applied to it.
Vermeil: The item is sterling silver with a gold plating."Sterling," ".925," or "925: The piece of jewelry is made of sterling silver, which means it must have 92.5 percent silver metal in it.
Silver-plated or silver electroplate: The item is base metal with a thin coating of silver on the surface.
Nickel silver or German silver: This item is silver in color, but it does not contain any silver metal.
Plat or platinum: This piece is at least 95 percent platinum.
Pall or palladium: This item is made of at least 95 percent palladium.
It's also common to see other marks on jewelry. Most pieces will have maker's marks or trademarks on them, identifying the company that either manufactured or sold the piece of jewelry. Often, this mark is near the metal content stamp.
Although sterling is an excellent option for many different types of jewelry, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when selecting this material.
While it's very durable, sterling silver is prone to scratches and scuffs. Over time, this can dull the finish. Silver can also tarnish, or develop a dark coating. Tarnishing happens when the metals in the sterling react to the sulfur in the air. Wearing jewelry regularly protects it from tarnishing.
Silver Plated Jewelry
Many necklaces sold as silver aren't solid sterling silver, but they are instead another metal like brass or copper plated with a thin layer of silver. Care should always taken when cleaning plated jewelry, as vigorous scrubbing can peel off plating. To clean silver-plated jewelry, use a mild detergent like dish soap diluted with water to
first remove any dirt. Then clean with a mild jewelry cleaning formula or rub
gently with a silver polishing cloth.
The best way to remove tarnish from silver jewelry is by gentle polishing with a soft cloth. Harsh abrasive polishes can dull the look of silver jewelry over time. If silver jewelry has precious stones, extra care has to be taken when cleaning to not damage them. Experts recommend using silver polishing cloths or cleaning formulas purchased from jewelry retailers. To quickly polish up jewelry before wearing,there are a few tricks you can
try at home.
Dip Cleaners: These solutions are meant for soaking silver jewelry and then rinsing. These are generally not recommended for jewelry with stones.
Polishes: These come as either liquid or a paste based product. Which are for specific use on sterling silver jewelry. Usually available form jewelers. Some silver polishes also contain a compound that protects against tarnish.
Jewelry Wipes: These disposable cloths are like other cleaning wipes but are specially formulated for jewelry. Some wipes will clean gold, sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry. Wipes are great for a quick polish before wearing jewelry out.
These are essentially jewelry cleaning machines that gently clean fine jewelry using water, mild cleaners and sonic waves. They are used byt jewelry retailers use to clean their products.
Sonic jewelry cleaning machines have a well that is filled with clean water or cleaning solution and a central tray in which the jewely is placed. The tray is moved within the cleaning solution, creating bubbles that remove dirt and tarnish.
Cleaning with Toothpaste
Rub toothpaste on the necklace, about one teaspoon for a long necklace. Make sure to get the paste into the links of the chain.
Add warm water and work the paste into a lather.
Brush with a soft toothbrush, working the toothpaste into the links of the chain or all the surfaces of the pendant.
Rinse with warm water. Make sure to remove all the paste. You can brush with the soft toothbrush to get all of the paste off.
Completely dry the necklace by laying it on a paper towel or other absorbent surface.
Rub with a soft cloth to bring back shine.
No matter what method you use for cleaning your sterling silver necklaces, you should also try to prevent tarnish by storing jewelry properly. Jewelry experts recommend storing jewelry in a tarnish-reducing bag or soft felt to reduce tarnish on silver necklaces, rings, bracelets and pendants. Keeping jewelry away from other jewelry items in its own container will also reduce scratches and wear.
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