Our Stirling Silver Guide
What is 925 sterling silver?
Sterling silver is the highest quality silver used for jewellery, an alloy of pure silver mixed with copper to increase durability.
Pure silver 99.9%, also referred to as fine silver is too soft to use on its own for jewellery and is too pliable and can easily dent, bend and scratch. Sterling silver has 92.5% pure silver and the remaining 7.5% comprises of copper to toughen it. Hence the name 925 sterling silver! But it is usually referred to simply as 'Sterling Silver'.
Other metals can be used but copper is a wonderful companion (and the most widely used), making the silver durable whilst maintaining the lustre and stunning colour.
Sterling Silver is an alloy
Simply an alloy is a metal made by combining two or more metals to give it strength.
What is the difference between sterling silver and silver plated?
The difference is simply jewellery that will last a lifetime. Silver plate is a process of bonding a very thin layer of silver to a base metal such as nickel, brass or copper. This layer is so thin it has very little monetary value, is less durable and can wear off over time exposing the base metal. Plated jewellery is often much lighter in weight than sterling silver and commonly used in fashion costume jewellery. We aim to select beautiful designs that you can wear every day and timeless pieces you will love and want to keep. Which is why we choose to use sterling silver and not silver plated.
When silver naturally tarnishes it acquires a grey-blackish tint. An oxidised finish is an imitation of this process by deliberately blackening the silver by applying a chemical acid process to burn and darken the appearance of the silver.
Rhodium plated silver
Rhodium is a precious metal and part of the platinum family. It is sometimes used to plate sterling silver jewellery to protect it from tarnishing. This is a useful addition to pieces that have intricate details and may not be cleaned easily. Rhodium is also hypoallergenic.
Black rhodium is sometimes used to plate Sterling Silver. As it has a blacker appearance than oxidised silver it can be used for a high fashion or dramatic look.
As it isn't possible to know the precious metal content of your jewellery by sight alone, a hallmark guarantees that your jewellery conforms to the legal standards of purity (or fineness).
Pieces are independently tested at one of the UK's Assay offices and our jewellery consist of the following 5 marks. Applied by a punched stamp or a laser for more delicate items.
- Sponsor's Mark - the designers unique mark (in our case “PR” Peter Russell who designs the jewellery.
- Standard Purity Mark - the metals purity and fineness mark, in our case 925 for Sterling Silver
- Assay Office Marks – again in our case we use the Sheffield Assay Office to test and mark our jewellery. The Sheffield Assay Office is denoted by a rose, followed by the English Silver mark of a lion and the year it was marked. The year 2017 is denoted by the mark “S” and 2018 will be “T”.
In the UK Sterling Silver must contain at least 92.5% of pure silver and every piece of sterling silver jewellery weighing over 7.78g should be hallmarked. We use genuine 925 sterling silver in all of our pieces which is why our silver is stamped with the 925 purity mark. Our pieces over 7.78g are hallmarked as required.
Silver Jewellery Care Guide
Silver Pride jewellery is made from 925 sterling silver. A precious metal that does need some love and care to keep it at its best.
Tarnish is caused by a reaction with sulphur that naturally occurs in the air. Tarnished silver will turn a darkish grey-black colour and is most easily removed when it first becomes visible.
Sterling silver will naturally tarnish with exposure to the air, environment, perfumes, moisturisers, hairspray, soaps and perspiration etc. These are obviously a fact of life so regular cleaning will help keep your silver sparkling.
3 suggestions to keep your silver jewellery at its brilliant best:
· Make accessorising the last finishing touch – Select your jewellery after you have applied make-up, perfume and hairspray to avoid unnecessary contact with these chemicals.
· Wear our silver jewellery in the shower, but do not swim or exercise wearing it as the chlorine in the water and body perspiration may tarnish it.
· You may want to show off your jewellery on the beach but the direct sunlight, sand and salt water won't do it any favours.
Cleaning your Sterling Silver Jewellery
Silver jewellery can be washed in warm water with a mild detergent. Dry with a soft nonabrasive cloth before storing. Please don't use your kitchen paper towel to dry as this can scratch your silver!
If you have discovered some older Sterling Silver jewellery that looks dull and a little tarnished, then wash it with warm soapy water and gently use a soft natural bristle toothbrush to clean and then dry thoroughly as above.
If you need something a little more robust try a polish specifically for silver like Silvo (i.e not Brasso or Pledge!). Simply shake well, apply with a soft cloth and leave to dry. Gently rub off with a clean soft cloth, again wash in warm soapy water and dry.
Specialist silver polishing cloths are also ideal companions to your jewellery. 100% lint cotton infused with special silver cleaners. These silver cloths will help bring your jewellery back to lifeon a daily basis, essentially lifting off dirt, grease and fingerprints. Simply rub over your jewellery and observe the shine. Cloths are generally available from most super stores, but check that they are lint (as it has a gentle abrasive action enough to polish the surface).
Harmful to silver jewellery
Steer Clear of Silver Dips - we don't recommend the use of silver 'dips' or liquids as these work by dissolving the silver sulphide and can damage the surface of the silver and wear it down over time. Even though cleaners might give a temporary shine, the pieces will tarnish much more quickly and have to be cleaned more frequently once you have broken down the surface.
Toothpaste – Being a mild abrasive it can help to eliminate minor scratches but unless it is applied with a soft toothbrush and washed thoroughly afterwards it can damage and scratch your silver and leave a permanent dull film. A safer option for removing scratches on your jewellery is to have it professionally polished.
Storing your Sterling Silver Jewellery
· Sterling Silver jewellery should be stored in a cool, dark and moisture free box, ideally an airtight jewellery box with a soft silk lining. Save your Silica gel bags from shoe boxes, handbags etc., and place some in your jewellery box to absorb any moisture. .
· Fasten all of your chains to stop them getting tangled, always fasten any extender chains on the last hole.
· Separating your jewellery by putting larger pieces into soft pouches before putting them away in the jewellery box will help to protect them against further scratches.