Common questions about sterling silver jewelry
Sterling silver jewelry has been a popular commodity for thousands of years. One of the obvious reasons is the affordability over other precious metals gold and platinum. The large variety of sterling silver jewelry requires certain knowledge in order to choose the right piece and also keep it in good condition as long as possible. The followings are the most common questions concerning sterling silver jewelry.
How to Prevent Tarnish on Sterling Silver Jewelry?
We thought we'd share with everyone our tried-and-true methods to prevent tarnish on sterling silver jewelry. Sterling silver jewelry is easy to care for if you follow a few simple steps with a minimum amount of time and effort. Storing silver jewelry for a prolonged time without proper care causes it to tarnish.
Tarnish on Sterling Silver Jewelry can look different depending on how long it's been oxidizing. It usually can be yellowyish in color or in extreme cases, black. Tarnish occurs when sterling silver reacts with oxygen in the air to form silver oxide on silver surface. Other factors that cause tarnish are exposure to humidity, sulphur, certain acids and cosmetics such as lotions, perfume etc., Contact with rubber bands also may cause tarnish due to the sulphur in the rubber band.
Prevention is better than cure.
Store your jewelry in a cool, dry place. The more moist the climate, the faster it tarnishes. Store them in individual small plastic sealed ziploc bags. This prevents scratches and other substances in the air that speeds up tarnish. There are jewelry boxes available in jewelry stores that is lined with a tarnish-free material to keep your silver in it's original condition. Bigger pieces can be wrapped in an anti-tarnish cloth. Include an Anti-tarnish strip in individual jewelry bags and change the strips in every two to three months. Silica Gel packs are also useful in absorbing moisture in the air.
A new technology eliminate the need of anti-tarnish strips to prevent tarnish on your silver or gold jewlery. Use anti-tarnish recloseable plastic bags made of Carbon-impregnated plastic to store your silver or gold jewelry. Thanks to the new technology developed by Nicholas Kotov, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Michigan. Carbon-impregnated plastic neutralizes the gases and moisture in the atmosphere that corrode and oxidizes silver and ensures your silver jewelry is tarnish-free for upto two years. These Carbon-impregnated recloseable plastic bags are widely available and when bought in bulk(in hundreds) costs less than 10 cents per 4 x 6 inch bag.
Do not wear your silver jewelry while cleaning, swimming and taking a shower. The chemicals such as ammonia, bleach and chlorine in water could cause tarnishing. Before returning your silver jewelry to storage, wipe and clean them with a soft cotton cloth preferably aprofessional jewelry polishing cloth such as Sunshine Polishing cloth, to remove any body oils, dirt, lotions etc., Do not use paper towels or tissues to dry your jewelry as they contain fibers that can scratch silver surface.
To clean lightly tarnished silver jewelry items, wash in warm water with phosphate free mild soap, rinse and dry thorougly with a soft cotton cloth. Take your heavily tarnished items to a jeweler for professional help.
It is a good practice to clean your silver jewelry once in a year using an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. However, silver jewelry studded with gemstones should not be cleaned using an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner as the chemical used in the cleaner might damage the gemstone. Use a jewelry polishing cloth such as Sunshine Polishing cloth to polish and remove tarnish on silver jewelry studded with gemstones. Silver is a soft metal and can be easily scratched so be sure to use a clean soft cotton cloth to remove any dust or dirt before using polishing cloth on the jewelry. When in doubt about the methods or materials you use to remove tarnish, clean or polish your silver jewelry, please take it to a Professional Jeweler.
What types of silver jewelry plating are there?
Unlike gold and platinum, however, pure silver is rather unstable and oxides rather quickly. Therefore, silver jewelry is usually plated with another metal to protect it from tarnishing. There are two kinds of plating for silver jewelry: nickel and rhodium plating. Nickel plating has a more whitish look and rhodium plating has a darker look. Rhodium is used to plate white gold and platinum jewelry and is much more expensive than nickel, and it give better protection to the silver underneath. On the other hand, some silver jewelry is not plated. For instance, high polished sterling silver jewelry does not have any plating and the surface is polished by machine to render shininess. Also, “oxidized silver” jewelry is oxidized on purpose to give a dark antique look and is not plated with any other metals.
How do I know the purity of my silver jewelry?
The purity of sterling silver refers to 92.5% of silver in the alloy. In order to confirm the purity, the metal itself has to be sent to a laboratory to be tested. However, most of the sterling silver jewelry produced nowadays has a “925” stamp to indicate the authenticity of the jewelry. Although there are cases where stamps are forged and the metal is either not silver or the purity is not as stated, they are very rare.
Can I wear sterling silver jewelry if I am allergic to nickel?
Yes, just make sure the jewelry is pure sterling silver, not plated with nickel. Even Rhodium plated sterling silver jewelry sometimes contains a nickel layer between the silver and the rhodium to act as an adhesive. Hence, buy only high polished sterling silver jewelry if you are allergic to nickel.
What is rhodium plating and what's it doing to my sterling silver jewelry?
Rhodium plating is a special process that gives silver jewelry a more vibrant, deeper look and makes it appear brighter, richer and more lustrous. Simply stated, a Rhodium plated finish looks so good that many times it leads many people to mistake Rhodium plated silver for white gold.
Its no wonder since Rhodium actually comes from the Platinum family of precious metals and happens to be one of the rarest elements on earth. Rhodium is very hard, durable and scratch resistant. These are obviously qualities which make Rhodium perfect for plating our designer inspired silver jewelry and our silver gemstone jewelry and many of our sterling silver wedding and engagement rings too.
Rhodium plating on sterling silver jewelry has become very fashionable and well liked and not to mention the very practical fact that it is used to protect sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing. With Rhodium plating, your silver designer inspired jewelry shines even brighter and often appears to be white gold or Platinum in color.
Sterling silver jewelry with Rhodium plating is often called platinum enhanced sterling silver jewelry. It does not compromise on the quality of your sterling silver jewelry and in fact, your sterling silver jewelry will stay brighter. When treated properly, Rhodium plated jewelry will never deteriorate and will shimmer and glisten brightly all the time.
Some top fashion designers and silver jewelry outlets such as Tiffany's have produced amazing and hot selling jewelry based on Rhodium plated sterling silver. And, of course don't be shocked to find Gucci and Christian Dior Rhodium plated silver jewelry also