in Themed Jewelry on June 14, 2016
If you are attracted to the cool and crisp white luster of sterling silver jewelry, you join a tradition that spans many centuries and crosses a multitude of cultures. Love of this precious metal can be traced as far back as the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Egyptians not only proudly wore sterling during their lifetimes, but they also requested that their favorite sterling silver jewelry be entombed with them!
The sterling alloy originated in continental Europe and was being used for commerce as early as the 12th century. It continued to be used as currency for many hundreds of years. We know the American revolutionary Paul Revere was regarded as one of the best silversmiths from this “Golden Age of American Silver.”
Sterling silver’s use in the home and for adornment continues to this day.
Here are 5 tips on what you show know about sterling silver jewelry.
- How can you tell if jewelry is really sterling silver? Because pure silver is not a strong metal it must be hardened by adding (usually) copper or other metals, in varying proportions. In order to qualify as “sterling silver,” a piece of jewelry must contain 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper (or other metals). Jewelry that meets this requirement can be stamped “.925 Sterling.” The 925 stamp is a fineness mark. Your jewelry might also have a hallmark and maker’s mark. Unlike a fineness mark, a hallmark is a mark that indicates that an official (usually a local assayer) in a particular country guarantees that the item is made from a certain percentage of silver. The United States has never really used hallmarks. However, many countries with far greater histories of silver-smithing employ or did employ at one time, a complex hallmarking system. Check your jewelry to make sure is stamped and possibly hallmarked. Somewhere in the stamping or hallmark, should be “Sterling” or Sterling Silver” and “925.”
- How should sterling silver jewelry be stored? Always store your sterling silver jewelry separately from other items to protect against scratching. To prevent tarnish, use an anti-tarnish tag in the storage bag or box. Use one tag per item.
- How should sterling silver jewelry be cleaned? Silver, unlike gold, can react to sulfur or hydrogen sulfide particles in the ambient air and develop a tarnish which is known as oxidation. This film can be easily removed with a silver cloth or cream (a cloth is less messy). Simply polish the piece back to it’s original bright sheen. Don’t use the cloth or cream on any gemstones however, just use it on the silver.
- Stamped and hallmarked sterling silver jewelry can be quite collectible and valuable. Look at the timeless appeal of Georg Jensen, Hans Hansen and Tiffany & Co. There is a lot of very lovely, very affordable antique and vintage jewelry out there waiting to be found.
- It is quite an affordable alternative to gold or platinum.
Well cared for silver jewelry can last a lifetime eventually becoming a precious family heirloom. Visit our sterling silver selection on the front page of https://www.mrsjonesandco.com/