Silver jewelry has been in vogue for many years. Even though there have been some changing trends regarding precious metals, sterling silver jewelry has thrived due to its easy maintenance, variety of designs, and several other reasons deepened here.
Nevertheless, the importance of researching a product cannot be emphasized enough. You can only learn how to properly take care of your silver jewelry by educating yourself on the material. Given that silver has been around for thousands of years, the amount of information and fixed opinions about this metal is endless. But… is it all true?
Silver can be one of the most misunderstood materials used in jewelry. Several myths about it urge to be debunked. Here are five of them:
1. Pure silver and sterling silver are the same
Pure silver and sterling silver are often used as synonyms, but they are not the same.
Pure silver, or fine silver, is (as the name itself suggests) silver as pure as you can get it: 99.9% silver and 0.1% trace elements. Due to its high purity, pure silver is too soft and difficult to shape properly. That’s why it’s too difficult to use for making jewelry and is often mixed with other metals to make it harder. When this happens, the silver is no longer considered pure.
Sterling silver is the result of one of these combinations of metals that come as a solution to pure silver being too soft. It’s a metal alloy, created when 7,5% copper (or zinc) is added to 92,5% pure silver, which is also why sterling silver is often referred to as “925 silver”. It is more cost-effective and also easier to repair or replace than pure silver. On the other hand, it does require frequent polishing to keep its shiny appearance. Sterling silver is technically the standard silver used for all global silver markets, including jewelry and financial markets.
Sterling silver is marked with a hallmark of 925, while pure silver is marked with a 999.
2. Silver jewelry tarnishing can’t be avoided
It is already known that silver jewelry can tarnish over time, happening more easily with sterling silver than with pure silver. However, contrary to many beliefs, it can be avoided or slowed down. Sterling silver jewelry does tarnish, but only if you don’t care for it. Understanding how to care for silver jewelry is the key, and you can find all about it in the “5 Tips to help you clean and care for silver jewelry”.
Silver jewelry tarnishes as a result of a chemical reaction that occurs when the metals that are mixed with silver, and not the silver itself, come into contact with air or other substances. It is a form of corrosion, but it does not destroy the underlying metal like rust does, which means (good news) it can be removed. Here are a few tips to help you delay tarnishing:
- Use warm water to wash your jewelry and dry them with a cotton soft cloth. Also, remember to use soft soap, instead of baking soda or toothpaste.
- Take off your silver jewelry when in contact with substances that can cause tarnishing such as chlorine, cleaning supplies, perfume, hairspray, and moisturizers. Saltwater can also be corrosive.
- Wipe your silver piece after wearing it, using a soft cloth. It doesn’t have to be deep cleaning, just make sure you return it to its proper storage without any residue.
- Safely store your jewelry in an airtight container, out of direct sunlight, in a dark and dry area, and allow plenty of room for each piece. Preferably, keep them in separate bags.
3. Silver jewelry can’t get wet
Also, a myth about silver. Water itself does not harm silver jewelry. You can totally get your hands wet with a sterling silver ring on. Water and gentle soap are the one thing you don’t have to worry about when it comes to tarnishing, although you might want to dry them pretty well. Do it by gently rubbing your pieces with a silver cloth or microfiber towel, avoiding paper towels, because these can scratch them. Delicate details also mean that soap may build up and will eventually need some clean-up.
Nevertheless, there are different types of water. As previously mentioned, you might want to keep your silver jewelry far away from the pool, the jacuzzi, or the ocean. It actually has nothing to do with the water or with them being wet. The problem lies in the chemicals or salt in it. There are many components in the water that will affect the appearance of your pieces. Chlorine and saltwater will for sure darken your sterling silver.
However, there’s no need to panic if somehow your silver pieces end up in the pool. Bear in mind that the level of damage depends on the time your jewelry is exposed to the corrosive element in the water, and you can also rinse it and clean it right away.
4. Silver is a lower quality metal
During uncertain times, when markets are afflicted by uncertainty, precious metals tend to perform relatively well. Silver is no exception, states an article on Forbes. According to this article, this is due to silver’s widespread application in electronics and jewelry making.
Silver isn’t just valuable to jewelers and collectors. In fact, it’s a crucial metal for heavy industry, photography, consumer products, and many others.
Silver is one of the most prestigious metals in the world. Its beauty and durability are recognized all around the world for many years now. When it comes to sterling silver even more so. This alloy addition is also what creates the bright and shiny color so prized by silver lovers. For all of that and more, silver jewelry will do as great as gold when passed on to the next generation. It will not get ruined if treated with care, and it will be forever considered a timeless choice. Silver is one of the most versatile metals, it coordinates with a variety of colors and skin tones. As time passes, it continues to hold and increase in value.
5. You can’t wear your silver jewelry every day
I bet you hear this myth a lot.
Sterling silver is one of the best jewelry metals to use every day, and not only because it’s a trend. It is a timeless choice, has fantastic durability, and it’s even hypoallergenic (if nickel free), which means it’s usually safe for your skin.
Besides, did you know that your skin’s natural oils are great for silver, keeping it shiny all the time? These oils slow down the process of tarnishing. They provide a protective, anti-tarnishing layer that can keep your silver jewelry bright and beautiful.
Just make sure you don’t forget to clean your silver jewelry after wearing it. These oils can accumulate on the surface of the piece and predispose it to oxidation.
These widely held but false beliefs seem true because we've heard them time and time again.
So remember: silver jewelry is a timeless high-quality metal that has been around for thousands of years; pure silver and sterling silver are not the same; your pieces can get wet; the tarnishing is both easy to avoid and to clean, and you can definitely wear it every day.
Despite all the surrounding misconceptions, choose your pieces wisely, treat them with care and enjoy them for the rest of your life.