Have you ever noticed a small engraved ‘925’ sign on one of your pieces of jewelry, be it a ring, bracelet or necklace? If so, then you’re already the proud owner of a celebrated sterling beauty. This special alloy of silver and (usually) copper has moved other materials into the background due to its durability, beauty and unique nature, which is also the closest to the base and, at the same time, usually much more affordable.
When, according to this case, we’re talking about a ring, you know that the hands are parts of the body that are in focus rather frequently. It happens whether because of the cool nail polish color or the different variations of rings that every woman is in love with – the only difference is in the style that one promotes or simply likes. Silver has always been a symbol of elegance, sophistication and tenderness, and rarely can anyone resist its magical sparkle. On the other hand, its general formula at times needs reinforcement to obtain a feature that’ll make it an even better option than it already is. By following such ideas, sterling silver was created in order to upgrade all the fantastic characteristics of pure material to a higher level and give it a brand new quality.
Here are a few things you may not have known about them – we’re sure some of them will surprise you!
They’re much more endurable
Let’s go back briefly to the ‘925’ mark, as it’s quite connected to this first fact. This number indicates 92.5% of the pure material that forms part of the sterling alloy. The remainder, more precisely 7.5%, represents the proportion of copper or similar metal used as an integral part of it. You may be wondering – why is it necessary to add any other formula to such a beautiful and noble material at all? The reason lies in the very nature of the obtained mixture – with the addition of copper, it becomes stronger, and therefore less prone to any external influence, breaking or bending.
Without this combination, it remains what it is when it’s in its pure, original form – a material of soft consistency from which we can make really lovely pieces – but still prone to cracking. Since at times it happens that we hit something with our hand, in some critical cases the ring itself can distort while on our hand if the obstacle hits exactly that place on our finger. This can happen less often with this option as the alloy itself gives it special durability.
They are prone to tarnishing…
Yes – even more than the pieces made exclusively out of pure silver. Of course, the reason is the presence of copper, and you’ll frequently notice that, if you don’t remove your rings for a long time and wear them always, after a while they’ll start to darken and lose their original shine. Unfortunately, this is inevitable when there’s lack of proper maintenance, and the only way to combat it is to keep the jewelry safe and take care of its cleanliness. Also, you should avoid putting these on every day, for the same reason – maybe it’s better to leave them for some special occasions, or wipe them every day with a simple microfiber cloth and a little bit of polishing.
The reason for this chemical process lies in certain substances that come directly from the air and are related to the concentration of oxygen, which in contact with the metal adversely affects the appearance and quality. So, in case you thought that only bijouterie gets those ugly stains that are hard to remove (or that can’t be removed at all!) over time, you were wrong. Just as it oxidizes, so does sterling silver if you don’t take care of it as you should.
…but you can take the tarnish off!
Phew – good news! Just like with regular silver, you can remove the stains from your rings and make them shine bright again in case you messed the thing up with a little bit of effort. Manufacturers, as well as experienced jewelry lovers, suggest that you should perform the cleaning with the help of a mixture of water and baking soda. You simply need to pour it over a piece of aluminum foil on which you’ve previously placed your jewelry. How deep the dish should be depends on the size of the piece – it’s significant for the whole piece to be dipped in this liquid.
As E&E – a renowned handmade jewelry company – suggest in their blog posts, you can also use a mixture of lemon, hot water and salt, plain toothpaste for polishing, or even ketchup! The point is exclusively in handling all this with caution, as you need to try not to scratch the pieces when cleaning them. If you’re careful enough, thanks to these methods you’ll have shiny and irresistible pieces of jewelry again.
There are special tricks for recognizing real sterling silver
How do you know if the imprint is authentic or if the piece you have is made of pure material or maybe alloy? This might sound as something challenging, but the truth is – it’s quite simple. The best way to check which variant is in question is to put the magnet closer to it. If your band is drawn near by the magnet, that obviously means that your piece contains copper or any other metal used in making the alloy. This means that it’s definitely not completely pure.
Also, in case you bring your ring closer to your nose and feel that well-known smell of metal, you’ll know that it’s certainly an alloy, as there’s no reason for it to be unpleasant – the pure material will generally not have any specific smell. Also, don’t think that the absence of the 925 mark means that someone has sold you something other than sterling silver – the ring may also have an engraved ‘STERLING’ or ‘STER’ on it – it still means that you have jewelry made of this material.