White Metal Jewelry: Sterling Silver

Sterling silver is a favorite medium for today’s most creative and innovative designers due to its affordability and malleability – it can be shaped into almost any form imaginable. A special gift of silver is a touching and lasting expression of affection, friendship, celebration, congratulations or thanks.

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Silver is a naturally soft metal and must be mixed with other metals to create an alloy; it is commonly mixed with copper. For jewelry to be labeled sterling silver, it must contain at least 92.5% pure silver. Genuine sterling silver jewelry will be marked with a 925, .925, 92.5 or “Ster.” Vermeil (pronounced “ver-MAY”) is a French word describing sterling silver that has been electroplated with at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold.

Sterling silver is a versatile metal and can have a high polish, matte, brushed, satin, sandblasted, oxidized (chemically blackened), or antiqued finish.

Sterling silver as a gift

  • For Her: Silver has been referred to as the Queen of Metals and throughout history has been widely used for women’s jewelry. Sterling silver is always an appropriate gift to commemorate an important event in a woman’s life or simply to say that you care.

  • For Him: For men, silver can be the ultimate symbol of confidence and distinction. Once exclusively reserved for the nobleman, silver is now a perfect gift for all men. Sterling silver cuff links, tie bars, signet rings, and belt buckles are all widely available in many styles and make great accessories for the contemporary man’s wardrobe.

  • For Children: Silver can make the perfect gift for children of all ages and teach them to make fine jewelry and gifts an important part of their lives. For older children and teens, silver jewelry can hold special sentimental value, creating heirlooms for future loved ones.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Sterling silver’s versatility and affordability create limitless options for fashionable jewelry. While sterling silver can tarnish or darken, it is easy to return silver to its natural finish with proper cleaning.

Caring for your Silver

The beauty of sterling silver jewelry and gifts is part of this metal’s ageless appeal. Properly caring for your silver collection is a sure way to keep sterling silver looking its shining best.

As with any fine jewelry or gift item, each piece of sterling silver should be stored individually, either in its own soft pouch or in a separate compartment in a jewelry or storage box. If you toss your jewelry into a dresser drawer and allow pieces to rub against each other, scratches will result.

Keep your silver in a cool, dry place. Sterling silver, like other precious metals, can oxidize with time. It is a good idea to store silver in a tarnish-proof cloth or in drawers lined with tarnish-resistant strips. It sterling does become tarnished, it is easily restored to its original gleam by using a paste, liquid polish, or a treated polishing cloth intended for use on silver. Or you may simply was the jewelry with warm water, rinse and then pat dry with a fine soft cloth.

Avoid using tissue paper or paper towels as they can scratch silver. The best way to prevent tarnish is to actually wear your sterling silver jewelry often. However, don’t wear it chlorinated water or when working with household cleaners such as bleach or ammonia. Treat your silver well and it will actually develop a lush patina and will reward you with a lustrous look.