Sterling silver, gold, platinum: all these three are popular luxury metals used in jewelry. Unlike costume jewelry that’s merely plated in these luxury metals, getting real luxury jewelry can cost an arm and a leg. For those who have owned both, you can imagine why: costume jewelry, after some time of keeping them, loses its shimmer and discolors; luxury jewelry, on the other hand, can last generations and will only need cleaning every now and then to keep its luster.
Out of all the luxury metals used in jewelry, sterling silver is one of the least expensive. I still wouldn’t call it cheap, though. But why is sterling silver expensive? If you look at it as a long-term investment, you may be surprised to find that it’s actually worth the additional cost. Here’s what you’re getting when you buy expensive sterling silver.
Sterling silver is different from pure silver. While pure silver is obviously 100 percent silver, it is too malleable and scratches easily to be used as jewelry (though some small jewelry like earrings can be pure silver). Sterling silver, on the other hand, is known as 925 silver because it has 92.5 percent silver while the rest of the 7.5 percent comprises of other metals that give it its shine and durability.
Because sterling silver jewelry is an expensive investment all around the world, the 92.5 percent composition is a hard requirement for jewelers to say they’re selling sterling silver. It’s illegal to market silver with a different composition and claim it is sterling silver.
The Price of Sterling Silver
As of writing, the price of silver itself isn’t very high: it’s $19.27 per ounce, which isn’t a lot if you consider it. But if you consider the quality, brand, and additional gemstones the jewelry has, it’s no surprise that some small rings can set you back thousands of dollars. But when you consider the benefits of buying sterling silver jewelry over silver-plated jewelry, it may be a worthy investment for yourself, your family, and the people you’re buying jewelry for.
Because of the high price of sterling silver, though, it’s best to do business with established jewelers that can guarantee authenticity. Price is not a good way of determining genuine sterling silver. I can take a $5 silver-plated bracelet from a bazaar and sell it for $500 by claiming it’s sterling silver, but that doesn’t make it true. There are plenty of ways to test sterling silver jewelry for authenticity, but if you want to really be sure, it’s best to deal with authentic jewelers.
The Durability of Sterling Silver
People who buy sterling silver do so because of the lifetime value of it. While more expensive metals provide just as much durability, sterling silver is the most affordable choice of heirloom jewelry families can pass down to their next of kin. Sure, you buy sterling silver now and it’s expensive, but decades later and it’s still in good condition and in your family’s possession, you’ll understand why sterling silver is worth the price.
Sterling Silver vs. Other Luxury Metals
Sterling silver looks slightly similar to white gold and platinum, both of which are significantly more expensive than silver. For some, the difference might be noticeable which is why they opt to buy more expensive metals. But if you’re thinking about price and know how to take care of your jewelry, your sterling silver jewelry can look just as good as other metals.
Sterling Silver Is Hypoallergenic & Antibacterial
Silver has hypoallergenic and antibacterial properties, thus making it the more hygienic choice among other luxury metals. Inexpensive base metals can irritate your skin, but silver doesn’t. And while sterling silver has 7.5 percent other metals, it’s mostly copper, a metal that is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. And in a 1994 study, researchers found that while silver could kill bacteria cells, it did less hard to human skin cells. This is important to know for people who intend on using jewelry for their piercings and are afraid of infection or irritation.
Determining and Keeping Sterling Silver
To determine genuine sterling silver, it should have a label with 925, .925, 92.5, 925S, S925, or any mark that indicates its composition. If you’re dealing with an authorized jewelers, they have additional materials to certify authenticity. Sterling silver is made everywhere in the world, so some jewelries’ labels include the country of origin, especially if that country is known for providing high-quality workmanship. So, if you were looking for Italian sterling silver, you’ll want to look for the label that says 925 Italy silver.
Because of the high price of sterling silver, it is unwise to leave it lying around and forgetting to clean it after every use. Sterling silver jewelry often comes with a box that protects it from oxidation and other external elements that can affect its quality. And instead of leaving that box on your vanity, it’s much better to store it in an air-tight place – you’ll want to keep your jewelry away from as much air as possible to prevent oxidation.
After use, be sure to wipe down your jewelry with a clean cloth. Your body has acids, and leaving traces of it on your jewelry instead of cleaning it down can affect its color.
There’s a reason why the term “born with a silver spoon in their mouths” refers to luxury and wealth. While sterling silver is the least expensive luxury metals used for jewelry, it is a metal that can withstand the time and serve as an heirloom for your family. Compared to costume jewelry that can degrade with time, quality sterling silver is meant to be kept in the family for generations.
Interested in buying sterling silver jewelry? Then this will be one of the more significant investments you’ll be making for yourself and your loved ones. Be sure to research on the type of jewelry you want, the reliability of the seller, and quick ways of determining sterling silver.