Precious metals have been coveted for centuries, mostly for their health benefits, supposed mystical powers, and their great value. Today, not much has changed.
Metals such as silver, gold, copper, and platinum are still highly sought-after and valuable. Whether they hold mystic powers is perhaps a matter of personal belief. One of the most popular precious metals used today is silver, which is often fortified to create sterling silver jewelry.
But what is the difference between true silver and sterling silver and why is it such a popular jewelry material? You can learn more about it all in this blog.
Pure Silver vs. Sterling Silver: What’s the Difference?
Pure silver is also known as fine silver and has a purity content of 99.9%. This makes it undeniably valuable. But there is one major dilemma with pure silver. It’s a very soft metal, so it does not stand up well to manipulation or long-term wear and tear.
Although fine silver is beautiful, it’s not a practical metal for the creation of jewelry, home goods, etc. This is where sterling silver comes in. So, what is sterling silver anyway?
It’s an alloy, which is defined as a mixture of two different metals. The two metals are melted down into a liquid state and then mixed together to create a stronger, fortified metal which has properties of each element.
Sterling silver is usually a mixture of pure silver and copper, nickel, or zinc. These are strong metals that help to increase the strength, durability, and longevity of sterling silver. The metal content is approximately 92.5% pure silver, and 7.5% alloy metal.
There is also a less pure version of sterling silver known as coin silver. It generally contains a pure silver content of 90% or less. Whether you invest in sterling silver rings, necklaces, bracelets, or earrings, it’s important to be able to recognize true sterling silver from its less valuable counterparts.
How to Recognize Fine and Sterling Silver
In order to recognize fine or pure silver, there are a few obvious things to look for. Most notably, the 999; 99.9; or .999 stamp. This is an indication of how much pure silver a piece of jewelry contains per hundred or thousand parts.
When it comes to sterling silver, look out for the typical 925; .925; or 92.5 stamp of approval. If a piece of silver jewelry does not have this verified stamp on it, it’s most likely not sterling silver.
Bear in mind that in certain regions across the globe, sterling silver content may vary. Jewelry sold in many parts of Europe may still include the 92.5 stamp, but actually have a lower fine silver content. German silver jewelry tends to carry 80% fine silver, while Russian silver jewelry has a content of 90% fine silver.
If you are concerned with the 925 sterling silver jewelry content, it’s always a good idea to inquire before you invest. Any well-seasoned jewelry salesperson should be able to recognize sterling silver from lower quality silver.
The Benefits of Sterling Silver Jewelry and Why You Should Invest
Sterling silver jewelry comes with a semi-hefty price tag, depending on what you’re buying. This is for good reason, especially if it’s 925 sterling silver. If you are looking to buy a particular piece, but the price seems too-good-to-be-true, be wary of the actual silver content then.
Remember that sterling silver jewelry should never tarnish, fade, buckle, or chip. Here are some of the top benefits of investing in real sterling silver:
1. It’s Lightweight and Durable
Due to the fact that sterling silver is an alloy and fortified with another strong metal, this makes the jewelry very durable. You can invest in a sterling silver piece and it should last you close to a lifetime. In fact, you could even pass on your sterling silver jewelry as family heirlooms.
You’d think that such a strong metal would be heavy to wear. But on the contrary, sterling silver is also lightweight, which makes it the perfect metal for necklaces, earrings, rings, and bracelets. With the right amount of maintenance and proper storage, sterling silver jewelry can remain part of your collection for decades.
2. It’s Fully Customizable
Not only is sterling silver quite affordable in comparison to other precious metals, but it’s also a great metal to work with. It is malleable and readily available. This means that you can design and customize sterling silver jewelry to suit your style and collection.
It’s the type of precious metal that allows for creativity and artistic freedom. Whether you have an idea for an intricate ring, a chunky statement necklace, or the fusion of metal and gemstones, it can be achieved with sterling silver. Another amazing perk is that it won’t break the bank, either.
3. The Metal is Hypoallergenic
Unlike many other cheaper metals such as nickel, brass, and copper, sterling silver is completely hypoallergenic. This means that it will not irritate the skin or cause adverse skin reactions when you wear your jewelry.
It’s not always common, but some people are also allergic to nickel and brass. Wearing these types of metals results in skin reactions such as skin rashes, itching, swelling, scabbing, and even blisters. By buying cheaper versions of silver jewelry with a higher content of these metals, you can put yourself at risk of these skin irritations.
Seeing as sterling silver has a fine silver content of 92.5% or more, there is very little chance of irritation as the percentage of alloy metal is too small to pose a risk.
4. Sterling Silver is Practical
This type of jewelry is perfect for everyday wear, no matter how busy you are, the type of job you have, etc. As mentioned, it’s a durable, tough metal. It’s also scratch-resistant, will not tarnish, won’t bend, buckle, or twist out of shape.
Basically, you can wear your sterling silver jewelry throughout your day-to-day life without worrying about the determination of its quality. However, it’s still important to regularly clean and maintain your sterling silver jewelry. Make sure to store it in a safe, cushioned jewelry box in order to preserve its longevity.
5. Accessibility and Variety
Sterling silver jewelry is popular, widely available, and offers a great range of variety to choose from. This makes it a great form of jewelry to invest in as you can easily diversify and grow your collection over the years.
It’s also relatively affordable when compared to other types of jewelry or precious metals. You can start off your collection by investing in a few statement pieces which you can wear on rotation. From there, you can slowly add to it with smaller, more intricate, complementary pieces.
The accessibility and variety of sterling silver jewelry allow you to update your collection on a regular basis. Or, you can commission your own unique pieces as your budget sees fit.
6. Wear Your Jewelry With Anything
It goes without saying that silver, just like gray, is one of the most versatile and neutral colors to have in your wardrobe. This is yet another major benefit of sterling silver jewelry. You can wear it with almost anything you have in your closet.
Whether you’re heading out for dinner, a white-tie gala, or a simple brunch date, your sterling silver jewelry is always appropriate. What’s more, you can also pair other types of jewelry with sterling silver. This includes white gold, platinum, pearls, and diamonds.
Sterling silver has a chic, elegant look to it. It can be used to dress up even the simplest outfit and turn it into something sophisticated.
7. It Offers True Value-For-Money
When you compare sterling silver jewelry to cheap, costume jewelry it may seem like an expensive investment. But if you compare it to other precious metals, sterling silver actually comes in at a steal.
Considering how robust, versatile, accessible, and not-to-mention, beautiful sterling silver is, it offers amazing value-for-money. You can spend a decent amount of money on a signature sterling silver piece, and you can rest in the knowledge that it will last you decades.
This is the type of investment that delivers on its promise and is always worth the up-front cost!
Get Your Fix of Handy General Knowledge, Here
Sterling silver jewelry has found its place in society today. It’s no longer reserved for the uber-wealthy or superstitious mystics that believe in its healing powers.
Even with its rich, fascinating history, sterling silver is more accessible than ever before. If you’re looking to build a beautiful jewelry collection, this is a good place to start!
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