Humans have long been enamored with gleaming silver, which has been used as jewellery, money, high-class homewares, status symbols, and much more. Silver is frequently used to commemorate significant events, accomplishments, celebrations, and ceremonies, as well as for its attractive decorative value.
But, honestly, how much do you know about silver? What exactly is sterling silver? What causes silver to tarnish and how can it be cleaned? What distinguishes silver from gold? What's more, why should you care?
We're here to offer you the facts because we've been designing and creating silver jewellery for a long time.
Remember to check out our post on gold, karats, and carats.
LET'S FIND OUT MORE ABOUT SILVER.
Silver is a soft, ductile, malleable metal that takes a high polish and is similar in composition and character to gold and copper. While it lacks the hardness of gold, it has numerous applications, particularly when alloyed with other metals to make it tougher.
Silver is one of the seven ancient metals known to prehistoric humans, along with gold, copper, tin, lead, iron, and mercury. The history of its discovery and early use is unknown because it has been in use for so long.
It's a more reactive metal than gold, and it's also more difficult to mine from its ores. This meant that silver was scarce and consequently more expensive throughout antiquity, until the Egyptians developed new methods of refining it around 1500 BC.
Silver is much less valued today than gold, which is rarer in nature and more difficult to extract in large quantities.
Is sterling silver actual silver, you might wonder? The answer is unmistakably yes. Sterling silver is an alloyed kind of silver that is better suited for jewelry and other works.
Fine silver is made up of 99.9% pure silver. The metal is attractive in this state and tarnish is minimal, but it's too soft and flexible for many applications, including producing most jewellery.
Sterling silver, which is 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent copper, is made by alloying fine silver with copper. Because of this percentage of pure silver, sterling silver is sometimes referred to as '925 silver' or hallmarked with a 925 stamp.
The copper makes the silver tougher and more robust, making it easier to work with and use, without sacrificing colour. Sterling silver will make up the majority of the silver jewellery you buy and wear.
The sole disadvantage of sterling silver is that it tarnishes more easily due to the additional copper, turning dark brown or black with time, especially in humid settings. It is, however, simple to clean, and your sterling silver will remain in excellent condition beneath the tarnish: it will not corrode or perish with typical use.
Even sterling silver's softness makes it unsuitable for use with very expensive gemstone settings. Gold or platinum are the most common metals chosen in this case since they are tougher and less prone to damage the settings.
Because silver is a soft metal, cleaning it should be done with caution. Never use abrasive cleaners like baking soda or toothpaste, as they will eventually remove some of the metal.
CAN YOU TELL IF IT'S REAL SILVER?
In most situations, your silver jewelry will be hallmarked or stamped with 925 (sterling silver) or 999 (precious metal) (fine silver). The stamps SS or FS may alternatively be seen to represent each.
However, because it is not a legal necessity in many countries, not all silver jewelry is hallmarked (including Australia). We believe that the hallmark can detract from the piece's polish in some cases.
A powerful magnet can be used as a test (preferably a rare-earth neodymium magnet). If the magnet forms a strong bond with the metal, the piece isn't silver, or it's silver plated over a base metal. However, because other metals aren't magnetic, this isn't a foolproof test.
You can even dab a small amount of chlorine bleach on the metal in an inconspicuous area and wait for a reaction if you're feeling bold. In the presence of bleach, silver (including silver plating) will usually turn brown or black. After that, rinse the metal thoroughly and try to erase the discoloration with a cleaning cloth or silver dip.
By the way, this should help you understand why wearing sterling silver jewellery in a pool is never a smart idea!
Finally, you can get a precious metal testing kit on Ebay or Amazon that will tell you exactly what metal you have if you follow the instructions.
Silver or gold jewelry is mostly a matter of personal preference, although cost is a big deciding factor unless you're exceptionally affluent. It may surprise you to learn that, while silver is a valuable metal, it is significantly less expensive than gold.
How much cheaper is it? Silver is around 75 times less expensive than gold at the time of writing. In comparison to silver, this makes amassing a solid gold jewelry collection an extremely costly endeavor.
The primary reason is that there is more silver than gold in the globe. Over the course of human history, 1.4 million tons of silver have been mined, compared to only 173,000 tons of gold.
Furthermore, unlike with lighter metals, persons with sensitive skin are highly unlikely to be harmed by it. Plus, because it is far less expensive than metals like gold and platinum, you can afford to buy a lot of lovely silver jewelry.
In comparison to other commodities, silver, like gold, will retain - and potentially even enhance - its value over time. It's also infinitely recyclable, and the metal may be repurposed in a variety of ways.
Silver jewelry adds class, value, longevity, and versatility to your collection, in addition to those advantages. Silver jewelry is a fantastic option.