Fine silver is so soft that to make it appropriate for jewellery use needs to be mixed with other, harder metals – like gold. Leaving pure silver as is would cause any jewellery to damage very easily.
Sterling silver is the most common form of silver mixed with alloys. Sterling silver has 92.5% silver content and 7.5% copper. While there is no direct need for the alloy to be copper, it has been found over many years of research that copper is the metal that least affects the beautiful silver colour while adding much needed durability.
The value of silver is largely concerned with the skill of the craftsperson making the piece. A skilled silver worker will craft intricate and clever designs that add much to the value of any silver piece.
Silver Stamps of Quality
It is legally required for most fine silver items to carry a mark that tells its quality and its trademark. These stamps will inform you of the pure silver content and the maker of your piece.
There are some instances where using pure silver may be perfect for a design. Although its softness precludes it from being used widely in silver jewellery, some silver workers make designs by hand featuring delicate weaving patterns or other designs that require something soft to work with.
For all other instances, however, sterling silver is the most common choice due to its strength and durability.
With proper care, your fine quality silver will last a lifetime. To minimise scratches and other damage, store your silver jewellery either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewellery box. Avoid exposing your silver to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver.
Clean Your Silver Regularly
Silver should be polished regularly to avoid the build-up of tarnish reacting naturally with sulfur or hydrogen sulfur in the environment. There are many silver polishes and other solutions on the market designed with this purpose. Using a soft cloth and a special polish, it is simple to remove tarnish as soon as it appears.
Your natural body oils are also a way to keep tarnish at bay, so wearing your jewellery regularly will keep your silver jewellery in fine form for many years.