First of all, what is sterling silver or 925 silver?
925 silver is a silver product made with a sterling silver ratio of 92.5% + 7.5% of other metals (copper, zinc, aluminum, etc.).
You may have seen silver bangles and necklaces imprinted with the number “925”.
What to Look for When Purchasing 925 Silver
If it is a genuine 925 silver product, the purchase price will change depending on the weight (gram unit price).
This means, the heavier the product, the higher the price inevitably.
In other words, it is unlikely that silver, which has a solid design and weight, is sold cheaply.
Keep in mind that the 925 stamp is not always a proof of authenticity as this can be faked.
Even if it is a genuine silver 925 material, there may be no 925 stamp due to design etc.
Silver is a hypoallergenic material, which means it is less likely to cause allergies.
All of our earrings come with a sterling silver needle backing to ensure no allergic reaction:
Our chunky Naomi gold croissant semi-hoop earrings give off a minimalistic yet sophisticated look. Click the photo below to view more.
Pearls symbolize purity and refined beauty. Our timeless Cora pearl studs will finish off your look with a dose of charm and feminity. Click the photo below to view more.
Our chunky Genesis mini gold earrings feature a thick but simple semi-hoop design. Their simple yet elegant design makes it the perfect piece for everyday wear. Click the photo below to view more.
So, How Do We Identify Sterling Silver?
As the value of silver grows and its use increases, so does the number of jewellers and retailers trying to sell fakes.
For example, we often come across "silver-plated" jewelry sold as genuine 925 sterling silver.
Unfortunately, these products are thinly plated with silver and will gradually wear out as you use them.
The raw material for counterfeit silver is copper or nickel alloys, which are much cheaper metals.
But here are some simple ways to verify that your sterling silver jewelry is genuine 925.
Tip # 1: Engravings
Look closely at the jewelry and look for the "925" mark, also known as the "engraving". The numbers show the percentage of silver, 92.5%.
There is also a “sterling" stamp. For very small items such as earrings, some are fine enough to require a magnifying lens to find this stamp.
But please note, even if it is a genuine silver 925 material, there may be no 925 stamp due to design etc.
Tip # 2: Magnetic Test
Use a magnet! Silver is not magnetic.
Try moving the magnet closer before deciding to buy the "silver product".
If it is attracted to a magnet, the jewelry is very likely made of a metal other than sterling silver.
Tip # 3: Acid Test Kit
If you're a silver enthusiast or collector, or if you're buying a lot of silver bullion, you might consider buying an acid test kit or a bottle of nitric acid.
Nitric acid (or HNO3) is a highly corrosive and colourless inorganic acid.
If most of the silver is an alloy made up of copper or nickel metals, a drop of acid will dissolve the other metals and turn green or blue. For sterling silver, it turns white or cream.
Be very careful when using nitric acid and wear proper protective gear.
Tip # 4: Discoloration
All silver discolours.
Remember from high school chemistry class, that natural silver reacts with hydrogen sulfide to produce silver sulfide and hydrogen?
The discoloration of silver sulfide is slight, if not visible.
Gently wipe the silver with a white cleaning cloth (jewelry polishing cloth) and you should see a black or dark green colour on the cloth for real silver.
Other metals may also cause colour discolouration on the cloth, so this method is not absolutely certain.
Caring for Silver Jewelry
As mentioned earlier, all silver discolours over time.
925 silver is also a silver alloy consisting of 7.5% copper and a small amount of other metal.
But that doesn't mean you can't prevent the discolouration process.
Discolouration occurs as a natural result of silver reacting with oxygen and sulfur.
Sulfur is also found in trace amounts in the environment such as air, or other organic compounds.
Silver can also be discolored when exposed to salt, direct sunlight and chlorinated water.
Given that there are several factors that cause silver to be exposed to sulfur and discolour over time, the best way to care for silver is taking preventative measures.
Here are some ways to prevent discoloration from silver while saving time and money.
- Store silver jewelry in airtight, individually wrapped plastic bags to prevent scratches and discoloration.
- Store silver in a cool, dark place without direct sunlight, high temperature or humidity. This slows down the process of sulfurization.
- Do not wear jewelry in showers, hot springs, or public swimming pools. These are places with high oxygen and sulfur concentrations.
- After removing the jewelry, clean it with a soft, dry cloth before storing it in an airtight container.
Now that you know how to take care of your silver jewelry, you might want to take a look at these sterling silver backed earrings!