If you've ever wondered what sterling silver is exactly, how it holds up to wear or how to clean it, we've got some answers for you. Here are the top 3 things that you should know about sterling silver jewelry.
1: What exactly is sterling silver?
Pure silver is too soft to use for most functional objects. Luckily, a smarty-pants back in the 12th century decided to mix pure silver with some other metal(s) to give it more strength. The resulting alloy is what we know today as sterling silver. Sterling is harder than pure silver and more durable for jewelry.
Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and considered a precious metal. The remaining 7.5% of the alloy is usually copper, which adds strength while still preserving the ductility and appearance of the pure silver.
2: Why does sterling silver tarnish?
Chemically, silver is not very reactive. However, it is attacked by some of the things common in the atmosphere. When exposed to airborne compounds of sulfur, black tarnish will slowly start to appear. When exposed to low-level ozone, silver oxide forms. The good news is that solid sterling silver jewelry can easily be polished back up to remove tarnish and look good as new!
3: How do I care for my sterling silver jewelry?
I’ve personally had a few occasions when I looked at my sterling jewelry and couldn’t believe it had turned completely black!
Care Tips for storing Sterling Silver jewelry:
Ideally, store it in a low-humidity environment.
Keep the jewelry clean and dry when you’re not wearing it.
If it’s in an airtight container, it won’t have a chance to react and tarnish.
It may help to place silica gel bags and/or a container of activated charcoal in the storage area to help inhibit future tarnish.
There are lots of antitarnishing papers and bags on the market that can be used to discourage the tarnishing of your sterling silver jewelry.