Sterling silver is highly popular amongst jewellers for creating high-quality, timeless pieces. Given its attractive properties and beautiful look, its popularity is no surprise.
Sterling silver is a silver of 92.5% purity with the other 7.5% usually containing copper or another metal (Copper generally being the best mix). As an alloy of fine silver and copper, sterling silver is harder than fine silver. Its good hardness is what makes it ideal for making jewellery. Sterling silver is however more prone to tarnishing despite being more durable than silver. This is because the other metals contained in sterling silver can react to oxygen and other atmospheric elements.
The sterling allow originated in Europe and began as a popular use for commerce. The first legal definition of sterling silver appeared in 1925, given by a statute of Edward I who made specifications of sterling silver. In Colonial America, sterling silver was used for currency and general goods.
Between 1634-1776, silversmiths worked primarily with sterling silver and created over 500 items. Casting was frequently the first step in manufacturing silver pieces and involved melting down the silver into smaller manageable ingots. Silversmiths would then forge the sterling silver ingots into shapes to form various items.
American revolutionary, Paul Revere was regarded as one of the best silversmiths from this “Golden Age of American Silver.” His success was largely due to his acquisition of a sterling silver rolling mill that allowed him to dramatically increase his production and efficiency and increase his sell to other silversmiths.
Sterling silver cutlery became necessary for setting the table during the 18-1940s. Also during this time was the height of the sterling silver craze with sterling silver becoming almost expected, particularly in the dining room.
Sterling silver fell out of favour around World War II given the high price of labour and a shift to more affordable dinnerware.
STERLING SILVER PLATED
Sterling silver plated is not actually sterling silver rather is made of other metals with a layer of sterling silver that will eventually wear off.
STERLING SILVER VS. SILVER
Sterling silver is noticeably different to silver. Pure silver is also known as fine silver and contains a content of 99.9%. A high silver content makes pure silver too soft for jewellery making and is often mixed with other metals to increase its hardness.
With proper care sterling silver jewellery can last a life time. The level of care required depends on the rating of the sterling silver. Pieces with a rating of .950 needs consistent polishing where as a rating of .925 indicates a sturdier material and thus the jewellery doesn’t require much cleaning. If you are unsure of the rating of your pieces, check with your jeweller or sterling silver supplier.
To maintain proper care:
- Keep sterling silver dry and away from chemicals and different contaminants found in water. Remove jewellery when showering or swimming.
- Before wearing sterling silver jewellery, apply any perfumes and lotions and let them dry first.
- Know when to take of your jewellery. Taking off jewellery when cleaning, cooking, showering, gardening, during hot weather etc. is recommended.
- Polish using a simple microfiber cloth or special jewellery cloth. Polish with long up and down stokes, not circular motions.
SHOP STERLING SILVER FINDINGS