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  • Writer's pictureKatrine Høilund Holmgaard

Here's everything you need to know about silver

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Here's everything you need to know about silver

What is silver in jewelry?

Silver is a popular metal used in jewelry making due to its versatility, durability, and affordability. It is a precious metal that has been valued for centuries and is commonly used to make various types of jewelry such as rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings.

Silver used in jewelry is usually made of an alloy of silver and other metals such as copper, nickel, or zinc, as pure silver is too soft and malleable for most jewelry applications. Sterling silver, for example, is an alloy that contains 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. This makes it harder and more durable while maintaining its beautiful silver color and luster.

When shopping for silver jewelry, it is important to look for pieces that are stamped with a quality mark indicating the purity of the silver used. The most common quality mark for sterling silver is "925," which means that the piece contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals.

Is silver good to make jewelry from?

Yes, silver is an excellent metal for making jewelry. It has many desirable qualities, including its durability, affordability, and versatility. Silver is also a highly malleable and ductile metal, which means that it can be easily shaped and molded into different forms, making it ideal for intricate and detailed jewelry designs.

Silver jewelry is also highly resistant to tarnishing, making it a great choice for everyday wear. However, it's worth noting that over time, silver jewelry may develop a natural patina or darkening of the metal, which some people find attractive. Others prefer their silver jewelry to remain bright and shiny, in which case it can be polished with a soft cloth or special cleaning solutions.

What is the difference between sterling silver and silver?

Sterling silver and silver are both made of the same material - silver - but the difference between the two lies in their composition.

Sterling silver is a specific type of silver alloy that is made up of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, typically copper. The reason for adding other metals to the silver is to increase its strength and durability, as pure silver is a soft and malleable metal that is prone to scratching and bending.

On the other hand, when people refer to "silver" without specifying a particular type, they usually mean fine silver, which is 99.9% pure silver. Fine silver is generally too soft for use in jewelry and is more commonly used in industrial applications or as a material for investment-grade silver bullion.

In summary, sterling silver is a type of silver alloy that contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, while fine silver (often referred to simply as "silver") is 99.9% pure silver. Sterling silver is the most common type of silver used in jewelry, due to its durability and resistance to tarnishing, while fine silver is typically used for industrial or investment purposes.

What is the difference between gold-plated silver vs. not gold-plated?

Gold-plated silver, also known as vermeil, is a type of jewelry where a thin layer of gold is bonded to a silver base. The thickness of the gold layer can vary, but it is typically between 2-3 microns. The purpose of gold plating is to give the silver a gold-like appearance and to make it more resistant to tarnishing.

The main difference between gold-plated silver and non-gold-plated silver is its appearance and durability. Gold-plated silver has a gold-like appearance, while non-gold-plated silver has a bright silver color. Additionally, gold-plated silver is more durable and resistant to tarnishing than non-gold-plated silver.

However, the gold layer on gold-plated silver can wear off over time, exposing the silver underneath. To maintain the appearance of gold-plated silver jewelry, it's important to take proper care of it by avoiding exposure to harsh chemicals, moisture, and excessive heat.

Does 18-karat gold-plated silver last longer than normal gold-plated silver?

Yes, 18-karat gold-plated silver can last longer than normal gold-plated silver. This is because 18-karat gold is a higher quality of gold than the gold typically used for gold plating. 18-karat gold is made up of 75% pure gold and 25% other metals, which makes it more durable and resistant to wear and tarnish than lower-karat gold.

When applied to silver, 18-karat gold plating creates a thicker, more durable layer than lower-karat gold plating. This means that 18-karat gold-plated silver jewelry is less likely to wear or fade over time, and can last longer than normal gold-plated silver jewelry.

However, it's worth noting that the longevity of 18-karat gold-plated silver jewelry will depend on a variety of factors, including the quality of the silver base, the thickness of the gold layer, and how well the jewelry is cared for. To ensure that your 18-karat gold-plated silver jewelry lasts as long as possible, it's important to follow proper care and maintenance instructions, such as avoiding exposure to moisture and chemicals and storing the jewelry in a cool, dry place.

How do I maintain silver jewelry?

To maintain the beauty of your silver jewelry and prevent tarnishing, there are a few steps you can take:

  1. Store your silver jewelry in a cool, dry place, such as a jewelry box or airtight container, to protect it from exposure to air and moisture.

  2. Avoid exposing your silver jewelry to harsh chemicals such as chlorine, bleach, and ammonia, which can cause damage and tarnishing.

  3. Clean your silver jewelry regularly using a soft, non-abrasive cloth to remove dirt and oil buildup. If your jewelry has more stubborn tarnish or grime, you can use a special silver cleaning solution or polishing cloth.

  4. Wear your silver jewelry frequently, as the natural oils in your skin can help prevent tarnishing.

  5. Avoid wearing your silver jewelry while swimming, showering, or engaging in other activities that may expose it to water or excessive heat.

By following these simple steps, you can help ensure that your silver jewelry remains beautiful and shiny for years to come.

How do I clean silver jewelry?

Here are some simple steps to clean silver jewelry:

  1. Create a cleaning solution by mixing a small amount of mild dish soap or laundry detergent with warm water.

  2. Soak your silver jewelry in the cleaning solution for 5-10 minutes.

  3. Use a soft-bristled brush, such as a toothbrush, to gently scrub any areas that are particularly dirty or tarnished.

  4. Rinse the jewelry thoroughly under running water to remove any soap residue.

  5. Dry the jewelry with a soft, lint-free cloth, being careful not to rub too hard.

Alternatively, you can use a silver polishing cloth, which is a specially treated cloth designed to clean and polish silver jewelry. Simply rub the jewelry gently with the cloth until it shines.

It's important to avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials to clean silver jewelry, as these can cause damage to the metal or remove the protective coatings. Also, avoid using ultrasonic cleaners or steam cleaners, as these can cause damage to certain types of gemstones or pearls that may be set in the jewelry.

By following these simple steps, you can help keep your silver jewelry looking its best and prevent tarnishing.


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