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Sterling silver jewelry has been a popular commodity for thousands of years. One of the obvious reasons is its affordability compared to other precious metals like gold and platinum. The wide variety of sterling silver jewelry requires some knowledge to choose the right piece and keep it in good condition for as long as possible. Below are the most frequently asked questions about sterling silver jewelry.
How do I clean sterling silver jewelry?
It depends. Usually, it is enough to use a jewelry cloth (with two layers of cloth in different colors), which you can get in a jewelry supply store. Do not use hard objects to clean sterling silver jewelry; even paper towels could scratch the surface. You should rub off dirt with a jewelry cloth, not your fingernails. Silver-Dip is another commonly used cleaning agent for sterling silver jewelry, also available at jewelry stores. Dip all silver jewelry in the solution for half a minute to a minute, then rinse with water. Make sure the silver jewelry is not coated with other metals before using the silver immersion bath, or the coating will be damaged.
Where do I store sterling silver jewelry?
It is very important to store sterling silver jewelry properly when not in use. The ideal place to store sterling silver jewelry is in a cool place away from sunlight. Heat and light will cause silver jewelry to yellow and tarnish quickly. Even indoor light sources such as fluorescent lights or incandescent bulbs will discolor silver jewelry over time. If you expect not to wear a particular piece of jewelry for an extended period of time, you should pack it in an airtight bag and store it in a drawer.
What are the types of silver jewelry coatings?
However, unlike gold and platinum, pure silver is quite unstable and oxidizes quite quickly. Therefore, silver jewelry is usually coated with another metal to protect it from tarnishing. There are two types of coatings for silver jewelry: nickel plating and rhodium plating. Nickel plating has a more whitish appearance, while rhodium plating has a darker appearance. Rhodium is used for plating white gold and platinum jewelry and is much more expensive than nickel, but it protects the underlying silver better. On the other hand, there is silver jewelry that is not plated. Highly polished sterling silver jewelry, for example, has no plating and the surface is machine polished to make it shine. Oxidized silver jewelry is also intentionally oxidized to achieve a dark, antique look and is not plated with other metals.New Walgreens Customers: Extra 25% OFF $20 Sitewide w/ code WELCOME25 + Same Day Order Pickup or Delivery!
How can I determine the purity level of my silver jewelry?
The purity grade of sterling silver refers to 92.5% silver in the alloy. To determine the purity level, the metal itself must be tested in a laboratory. However, most sterling silver jewelry made today is stamped with a 925 stamp to indicate the authenticity of the jewelry. While there are cases where stamps are counterfeited and the metal is either not silver or the purity level is not as specified, this is very rare.
What about engraving and resizing?
Engraving and resizing sterling silver rings is fairly easy due to the ductility and relatively low melting point. However, make sure your jeweler understands the process of refinishing the ring and has the equipment to do so. Not all jewelers have the equipment to reapply the rhodium plating after cutting and welding the ring. Also, rings set with stones are sometimes not resizable because the stones could pop out if resized. Such settings include channel and invisible settings.
Can I wear sterling silver jewelry if I am allergic to nickel?
Yes, just make sure the jewelry is pure sterling silver and not plated with nickel. Even rhodium-plated sterling silver jewelry sometimes contains a layer of nickel between the silver and the rhodium, which acts as an adhesive. Therefore, only buy highly polished sterling silver jewelry if you are allergic to nickel.