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Sterling Silver Jewelry: Top 5 Things You Should Know

by Vasiliki Spyropoulou |

If you have ever wondered what exactly Sterling Silver is, how it tarnishes or how to clean it, we have some answers for you. Here are the top 5 things you need to know about silver jewelry.

1. What exactly is Sterling Silver?

Pure silver is too soft to use on most objects. Fortunately, around the 12th century someone decided to mix pure silver with some other metals to give it more strength. The resulting alloy is what we know today as silver.

925 silver is 92.5% pure silver and is considered a precious metal. The remaining 7.5% of the alloy is usually copper, which adds strength while maintaining the durability and appearance of pure silver.

2. Why does silver turn black?

Chemically, silver is not very reactive. However, it is attacked by some common things in the atmosphere. When exposed to airborne sulfur compounds, commonly known as air, it turns black from the silver sulfide formed due to the presence of traces of sulfur in the air from car exhaust. The good news is that solid silver jewelry can be easily polished to remove the black and look beautiful like new!

3. How do I take care of my silver jewelry?

Personally, I was sometimes surprised when looking at my silver jewelry. I could not believe that they had turned completely black!

One time, I quickly put on my jewelry and realized that I was digging for clams on the beach with my son (with my rings on ... wrong!) and that stinky smell I noticed deeper in the sand was sulfur. As mentioned above, sulfur + silver = silver tarnish. When I got home, I took out my cleaner and managed to quickly remove the black and make them shine again.

The second time, while swimming, I got 2 tarnished necklaces. This time, the polishing cloth did not work well since the cloth does not fit into the chain. But here are some ways to clean it too!

Care tips for storing 925 silver jewelry:

  • Ideally, store them in a low humidity environment.
  • Keep the jewelry clean and dry when not wearing it.
  • If it is stored in an airtight container, it will not have the opportunity to react and tarnish.
  • There are many anti-tarnishing  papers and protective bags on the market that can be used to discourage the tarnishing of your silver jewelry.


4. How to clean or remove tarnish from sterling silver:

Polish Cloth (with polish already in it):  There's a simple polish cloth we love that's great for shining up silver.

Polish Creams: There are a variety of polishing compounds designed specifically for cleaning sterling silver. Most are creams that you rub on, then wipe off, and some have the added benefit of leaving behind some extra tarnish resistance.  

5. How to know if something is 925 silver

If the piece is commercial, check the indications. Silver is often stamped with 925 or .925.

Keep in mind that the lack of markings does not necessarily mean that it is not sterling silver. For example, smaller manufacturers of handmade pieces may not mark the items they make. You can perform a test by holding a magnet close to the item. If the magnet attracts the item, then you probably do not have sterling silver. It should not be magnetic.