Buying Silver jewellery - Guide
- 26 Feb, 2020
For many centuries, silver has been linked to wealth and luxury. Why else would you think, ‘born with a silver spoon’ be a phrase to refer to the one’s born rich and wealthy?
Silver is a precious metal, just like platinum, gold, diamond, and palladium. All of these are known for their rarity and exclusivity. Silver has been around for several centuries. The first use of silver can be traced back to 3000 BC. This precious metal is valued for its abundant uses. Because of its beautiful color and easy pliability, silver is a favorite metal for jewellery pieces.
Popular Silver jewellery collections:
When people think of silver, they think of it as a piece of jewellery. However, if truth be told, silver has several other purposes than being just a precious metal for jewellery. What many do not know is that silver is an anti-bacterial and is a good conductor of electricity. Because of these two noteworthy properties of silver, it has found great use in technological and medical fields.
Which silver should one buy?
You can find a good variety of different types and forms of silver. Of these, the most commonly used variety of silver includes pure silver, silver plate, and sterling silver. They are not only the most common types of silver but also the kind that’s most excessively used. Now, let us take some time and understand these three most popular types of silver, one by one.
If you can think of a variety of silver, which is closest to the pure silver, then it is fine silver. Fine silver goes by the hallmark .999. In this variety of silver, the remainder .1% of the silver is made via trace elements that aren’t found in a significant quantity. A lot of people might think that pure silver is better than sterling silver, but that’s not true. Pure silver is rather soft and is not capable of being used in jewellery. It is malleable and can be damaged easily. Further, the sad part about pure silver is that it even loses its shape over time. Mostly, the fine silver is used for jewellery pieces such as pendants and earrings over items that could be exposed to rough wear.
Have you seen or heard about the gold plate? If yes, the silver plate is more or less the same thing, but in silver. In the silver plate, there is a thin layer or coating of silver over another base metal, mostly copper. As a result, the silver plate has a far less quantity of silver in composition as compared to sterling silver and fine silver. So, naturally, it is not very valuable as the other forms of silver. Moreover, since the composition of silver in it is less, it can flake off or discolor over time.
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver. The composition of it includes, 92.5% silver and the remainder 7.5% could be any other metal, primarily nickel or copper. The employment of these metals in silver adds to its durability and strength. It also adds a hint of additional luster to the silver. This composition assures a better and a stronger variety of silver, which is perfect for the standard pieces of jewellery. It is an established silver standard that originated back in 1300. Not many would know, but this standard was once popularised by Tiffany and Co in America when they employed this for their jewellery. But, did you ever ponder how to identify sterling silver? It is important to know that if it is genuine sterling silver, it would have a hallmark, which would be proof of its genuineness and authenticity. However, there are a couple of versions of the hallmark of the sterling silver.
Hallmark versions of Sterling Silver
Some of these would be:
- You can see .925 stamped on the silver
- Words, such as Sterling Silver, STER, STG, or STERLING, might be written on silver.
- You might find number 800 stamped on silver. If that’s found, the silver could be of European origin.
The durability of sterling silver
In case you aren’t certain about the durability of silver, sit back, relax, and be easy. Silver is a hard metal and would last you through ages. In case, over the years of use, if there’s any damage or scratch on the body of sterling silver, you can easily get it back to smooth by polishing it back. Further, you can even perform repairs, if any part of it goes missing or broken. Resizing of the sterling silver is also possibly. So, maintenance of sterling silver can be done easily.
Other forms of silver
Besides the three mentioned above, there are other less popular varieties or forms of silver too. These include silver coin, Britannia silver, tribal silver, German silver, Mexican silver, and nickel silver. All of these types of silver are different in composition and vary depending on the amount of silver contained in them.
A silver hallmark is a tiny microscopic stamp, which can be found somewhere on the body of the silver. To see this detail properly, you would have to look carefully with the help of a microscope. It is possibly the fastest and the most authentic way to identify whether or not your silver is a real deal or not. You might find a rare fake marking of silver, but these aren’t very common. Please know, that in case a piece of jewellery does not have any area on which there’s a stamp or marking, and the body is unstamped, you have nothing to worry about. The silver might still be valuable. So, it is best to get it checked for authenticity.
Value of Sterling Silver
In comparison to palladium, or gold, sterling silver is far more affordable. It is primarily because the frequency of silver mining is higher than that of these precious metals. However, irrespective of everything, sterling silver, still happens to be one of the most beautiful and exceptional pieces of metal known for its sheen and color. However, since sterling silver is available at only a fraction of the cost of platinum, diamond, or gold, it is ideal for every jewellery lover, irrespective of their tiny budget.
Tarnishing of Silver
If you have used or owned a piece of silver jewellery, then you might have noticed that over time silver not only loses its luster but also turns black. However, as we discussed above, fine silver does not tarnish easily. It not only is resistant to tarnish, but also maintains its color.
Even if a piece of sterling silver is repeatedly exposed to humidity and air, it would tarnish over time. The key reason behind this is that there is a presence of another metal in the alloy, mainly copper, which reacts to sulfur or moisture in the air. So, when they bond with silver chemically, they cause discoloration. Additionally, if the silver is exposed to chemicals, such as sprays, perfume, makeup, lotions, and detergents, it can tarnish even faster.
Now, the tarnishing is inevitable, but you can prevent or delay the silver from tarnishing. So, how do you do that? Let’s find out.
Preventing the tarnishing of silver
Irrespective of the price or quality, every piece of sterling silver that you own is likely to tarnish over time. Of course, you cannot prevent it 100%, but you can slow down the process dramatically over time. So, here are some steps that you can take to slow down this process:
- Storage: How you store your silver pieces is the best way to prevent the tarnishing of silver. You have to ensure that your jewellery is not exposed to air. For this, you can consider storing them in airtight bags. You can even add an anti-tarnish strip into the bags. It is a good way to prevent tarnishing of silver. Storing the silver pieces in an air-restricted box or other low humidity storage box could also be a good way. If you wish to prevent the jewellery pieces from catching the moisture in the air, you can put a piece of chalk or silica gel in the box. It will absorb the air from the box.
- Chemicals and exposure: Now, every time you wear your jewellery, you should clean it properly before storing it away. When you wear your jewellery, the body oils, as well as the other elements, can build up on the surface of the silver. It can then accelerate the tarnishing process. Further, before you go showering or swimming, it is a good idea to remove all your silver jewellery to avoid contact with water. Moreover, you should also keep your jewellery pieces away from body fluids, household chemicals, or any items that have sulfur in it, such as onions, latex, and wool. Additionally, you should prevent the jewellery from coming in contact with cosmetics, makeup, or lotions. Make sure after you are 100% ready, you wear the jewellery pieces.
- Maintenance of Silver Jewellery: If you happen to wash your silver pieces, make sure you use only soap and warm water. Further, be as gentle as possible. After washing, you can tap dry with a soft cloth. It will help you remove the dry water spots from the jewellery, and then you can carefully store it away. Another excellent way of delaying the process or rate of tarnishing is by polishing your silver pieces.
My jewellery is already tarnished, what can I do now?
If your jewellery piece is already tarnished, it would look black. Now, the best way to remove the unsightly black coating is by polishing the silver jewellery. Primarily, there are 4 ways to carry out the polishing of the silver jewellery. These include:
Getting the silver professionally cleaned
The best way is to take the jewellery piece to a jeweler and get it professionally cleaned.
Using a silver polishing cloth
When you plan to polish your silver jewellery with a piece of cloth, you should avoid rubbing in circles. This can lead to scratches on the body of the silver. So, you should rather rub the silver with a cloth back and forth.
Use a Silver Jewellery Cleaner
Take a soft cloth and add a bit of silver jewellery cleaner on it. Then, you can gently buff your silver a couple of times. After it is done, you can wash the jewellery with warm water. It will help rinse the jewellery cleaner that you applied to the body.
Use a Silver Cleaning Dip
Another great way to get rid of silver tarnish is by placing your jewellery in a nice cleaning dip. You can easily find commercial dips in the market. However, please know that these tend to have some serious health implications and can damage the body of the silver.
Making your cleaning dip at home
A safer alternative to this is making your silver cleaning dip by yourself at your home. So, how should you do that? Let’s find out:
- Take a small bowl and line it with aluminum foil.
- Now, add a bit of salt and baking soda in it and mix it with boiling water.
- Next, add a bit of white vinegar to the solution.
With that, your cleaning dip is prepared. Now, you have to soak in your silver for a few minutes. After you can remove the tarnish, you can take out your jewellery pieces, and wipe them clean. This is the fastest and the most effective way to clean the silver and help it regain its luster.
In addition to this, there are other alternatives, too, to make a cleaning solution at home. However, it is best to stick to this one because it is incredibly safe and contains no harmful ingredients.
How to pick your silver jewellery?
You can find sterling silver in a myriad of options and styles. Be it a minimalist, or a maximalist, a modern goddess, or a vintage lover, you can find a sterling silver piece to cater to your taste and preferences. Sterling silver is by far the most versatile metal, and you can easily find something to suit all events and occasions.
Forms of Sterling Silver Jewellery
You can find an abundant variety in the forms of the Sterling Silver Jewellery. Some of the most common pieces include:
- Sterling Silver Charm Bracelets – We all love bracelets, don’t we? They are a rage and something that works well for people irrespective of the age group. They not only make for a great gift but are also a good keepsake. You can find a whole new variety in the sterling silver charms that you can buy and add to your collection. These would include Pandora charms, glass charms, crystal charms, Italian charms, and European charms. Each of these has a unique look of their own. Thus, it is easier for you to find something that looks good on you and well caters to your taste and style.
- Sterling Silver Necklaces – In sterling silver, there is a huge variety in the chain that you can pick from, depending on your taste and preference. You can opt for an Omega chain or a solid snake chain, which will give you a bold and a shiny appearance. Other varieties in this would include Figaro chains, Rombo chains, or Singapore chains. You can go from sleek to bold, depending on the occasion and the outfit.
- Sterling Silver Pendants – You can also find the sterling silver pendants in a multitude of shapes and sizes. So, looking for something that goes well with your style shouldn’t be difficult. For those seeking a bold, or a loud look, picking a sterling silver statement necklace with an exquisite pendant would do the needful. Opt for something that elevates your overall look and outfit. Be, assured, if you do it right, you’ll have a bucket full of compliments coming your way.
- Sterling Silver Earrings – You can also find a plethora of sterling silver earrings, ranging from casual to formal and semi-formal. So, depending on the event and the occasion, you can certainly find an earring to complement. The hoops and the silver studs or earrings make a perfect pick for everyday wear earrings. They go great with both casual and workwear outfits. If you need a dressier look, you can pick chandelier earrings or the drop earrings or the sterling silver big hoops. These are not only more dramatic but also perfect for special or formal events.
- Sterling Silver Ear cuffs – Lastly, you can also pick sterling silver statement cuffs. They would accentuate the look and vibe of your T-Shirt and casual jeans. It will uplift your outfit and make it look dressier. However, if you are into a minimalist look, you can opt for a cuff that has a rather thinner width. Cuffs tend to more unique than your bracelets. They sure are very bewitching, so make sure you pick the right cuff.
Difference between white gold and sterling silver
As far as the look and appearance go, both sterling silver and white gold look more or less the same. In fact, for an amateur, the two will only look identical. As far as the similarity goes, the two are beautiful looking alloys, which have a ravishing white luster. However, the two are distinct in properties, and there are identical differences in them that set the two apart from each other. Now, let us take a look at the distinction in the properties of the white gold and sterling silver.
White gold is better resistant to damage, scratches, and impact, in comparison to silver. So, if your priority is durability, then white gold should be a priority.
In all honesty, white gold is much easier to maintain than sterling silver. We say this because white gold will neither oxidize nor tarnish over time. Moreover, you don’t have to spend too much time cleaning it. So, white gold will be able to retain its luster for a much longer period. However, since there’s a rhodium plating on the white gold, it can wear thin. If that happens, you’ll need to get a polish or reapplication done by a professional jeweler.
The biggest difference between white gold and sterling silver is in its value. As we have already told you that both of them are precious metals, but both aren’t priced equally. So, naturally, white gold is a bit more expensive than silver. In the list of precious metals, silver is seen to be the most affordable one.
So, this is all about the distinction between white gold and silver. What you pick primarily depends on your preferences and priorities. Both have their share of pros and cons.
Is sterling silver hypoallergenic?
Sterling silver does not cause any allergies or skin irritation. The primary cause of metal allergies in silver is nickel, which is rarely used in the alloys of sterling silver. Mostly, the alloys of zinc and copper are used, which are safe. To avoid any unnecessary issues, you should always check with your jeweler before buying sterling silver.
Purchasing Silver Jewellery
You can shop for sterling silver both online or at a physical store. However, there are a few factors that you need to be careful of to assure that you don’t get ripped off.
So, here is a quick checklist that you need to read through before making your purchase.
- Purchase from a reputed retailer only – Now, this might seem like the most obvious thing to do. However, it can often be difficult to tell whether the retailer is authentic or not. So, if possible, you should check online reviews about the retailer. See what people are saying about them. You can ask the seller all the relevant questions before purchase.
- Look for the hallmark sign – A hallmark sign is great to identify the quality of silver. If you cannot find the hallmark, you can ask the seller about it. Sometimes, the item is too small and might not have a visible hallmark sign.
- Enquire about the metals in the alloy – You should know about the different metals in the alloys. If you have any skin sensitivities or are allergic to metal, then there is a chance that your silver has nickel in it.
- Check for the after-sales policies – Enquire the seller if the seller is willing to take responsibility for the sale. Look for the return policy, maintenance policy, and product warranty. When you are buying online, you can check the shipping policy.
So, this is all about the buying guide for silver jewellery. Hopefully, this guide will help you make your purchase with ease.