When you own sterling silver jewelry, it's important to take care of your pieces when they're not being worn. Storing silver jewelry properly will protect it from dust, tarnish and fungus. While most people may be aware of the importance of sterling silver storage, not everyone may know what the metal actually is or how it's made. For this reason, we have compiled several important facts that every jewelry owner should be aware of:
Sterling silver is made up of an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% various other metals which may be copper, zinc, nickel, germanium and platinum, with copper being the most popular. Pure silver is much softer than sterling silver, which is much more durable. This is why people wear sterling silver more often in their everyday lives.
- If you look closely, you may see that your sterling silver jewelry has been stamped. It could say "sterling," "sterling silver," or ".925." These stamps are applied to indicate the metal content of the jewelry. These stamps are normally coupled with a maker's mark.
- Normally sterling silver is given a finishing. Some may polish or brush the silver with an abrasive, while others may use a plating process. The most common practice is plating the jewelry with a top layer of fine silver and a middle layer of nickel or copper. Alternative plating processes use rhodium, gold, and anti-tarnish plating and while these methods may help protect the silver and aid in prolonging the finish and color of the jewelry, they will wear off.
- If your sterling silver has a blackened, antiqued look, then chances are good that it was made that way. Some jewelry may be oxidized with chemicals to provide this unique appearance. When cleaning your jewelry, try to be gentle so as not to minimize this effect.
- It is common to have black or dark green coloring on your skin after wearing a silver sterling jewelry piece. This is caused when the silver reacts with acidic perspiration or other agents like perfume, makeup or hairspray.
- If you take diligent care of you jewelry (for instance, by using sterling silver storage bags), then you should expect them to last for years. Remember to remove your jewelry when applying makeup, lotions or perfume. If you put on lotion, do not handle your jewelry, as this will leave fingerprint marks that are hard to get rid of and can lead to tarnish of your silver. As a general rule, store your sterling silver cautiously with anti-tarnish materials to avoid tarnish.