The Sterling silver Is from an alloy composed of silver in 92.5% and other metals in 7.5%.
Therefore, it is not pure silver but a combination of several metals and is defined according to the amount of pure silver containing the alloy.
In most cases it is possible to identify the authenticity of the same by means of the verification of some registered stamps included in the products made with this material. This denotes its purity and is usually placed in a discreet place.
Some of the conventional alloys use copper (it is considered the most common alloy currently), boron, platinum, silicon, germanium and zinc. These alloys are extremely useful because they allow the creation of pieces of jewelry with the use of silver.
The reason it mixes with other metals is because it is considerably difficult to use pure silver for creating good designs because this is very soft and malleable, making it difficult to use for jewelry. Due to this and for the purpose of introducing a bit of hardness, other metals are added.
In the case of pure silver, it has a purity level of 999, that is, of every 1000 gr of metal 999 are silver.
Characteristics of sterling silver
- Although you may think that a higher content of silver is beneficial or that would bring value to the object, this is not the case. When working with a metal containing more than 92.5% silver, it would be too flexible to be used without the risk of dents and blows.
- Alloys made with silver are necessary to ensure the stability and strength of the metal.
- Silver is found in a wide variety of styles and textures, the most common is the sight in jewelry and is highly polished to obtain a nice light reflection.
- In many occasions it is sought that the silver simulates or resembles the visual aspect of white gold (but the final result will be a slightly darker finish).
- A feature of silver is its tendency to staining, dimming or tarnishing. This is caused by the small impurities found in silver, when reacting with the air this phenomenon occurs.
- Another cause of the tarnishing of silver is to be touched frequently (for example: candelabra, trays, etc.)
- Currently there are many remedies to keep a piece of silver in excellent condition without being opaque or darkened ideally is polished.
- In many cases the jewelers sell with the objects a fine cloth and products for the cleaning and polishing of the objects. These are specially designed to eliminate all kinds of problem caused by stains and darkening.
- Engineering is constantly advancing in regard to sterling silver jewelry, some of the jewelry made with this material are mixed with alloys that allow them to retain a vision free of luster.
- In some cases it is also possible that they acquire an iridescent type of coloration, with precious stones or minerals embedded in them, as in the case of CZ jewels. These new designs with cubic zirconia offer unique pieces and new designs.
- Usually, many people claim to be allergic to silver, but this really happens not because of the silver itself, but because of the other metals contained in the alloy.
- The rules of sterling silver vary according to the country, each determines a minimum content of silver to consider fit to enter that category.
Sterling silver is very popular because it has more durability than pure silver but maintaining its beauty.
- When there is an increase in gold prices, the popularity of sterling silver increases.
Uses of sterling silver
Sterling silver is used for the production of a large number of objects for different purposes, among them are:
- Currently the production of jewelry is the area that makes the most use of sterling silver.
- It has been used for the creation of national currencies in different countries.
- In the beginning it was widely used for the creation of cutlery: the different types of forks, spoons, knives, etc.
In the beginning, the use of these implements was imposed during the Victorian period, when the rules of etiquette dictated that one should not touch the food directly with the hands.
- The cutlery was often accompanied by different sets of tea, pots, trays, salad bowls, glasses, cups, napkin rings, pitchers, candlesticks, etc.
- Subsequently, interest in this material was extended and allowed to be used for the creation of paper clips, mechanical pencils, letter opener, boxes, mirrors, brushes, manicure sets, among many others.
- Surgical and medical instruments.
- It is considered excellent for the creation of wind instruments in bronze alloys, for example: saxophone and flute.
Silver has always been a highly valued metal since its discovery before the year 4000 BC. C.
Since then, its popularity has grown steadily over the years. The uses of silver have spanned a wide range and have even been used as national currency in several countries.
The first important mines were registered near the year 4000 a. C. and were located in Anatolia, now Turkey.
Records were found indicating that around the year 2500 a. C. the Chinese improved the refining of the silver and implemented measures to facilitate its excavation.
Subsequently, Greece became the main producers of silver for the rest of the world and continued in this way for many centuries until Spain gained power in the market thanks to its own silver deposits.
The story of how it got the name"sterling"or"sterling"in English, originated around the 12th century. Originally used as a payment for English cattle, a group of East Germans compensated the British with silver coins called"Easterlings".
From that time, the name Easterling was gradually accepted as a standard of English currency.
After being accepted such denomination, it underwent a modification and was abbreviated to"Sterling"or sterling in Spanish and this is the term used at the moment to refer to the highest degree of this valuable silver metal.
How to evaluate an object and determine whether it is sterling silver or a forgery
By the presence of a seal
The first thing to do is locate if it has a distinctive stamp, usually almost all the pieces made with this material have it.
It can be found in the form of a stamp, symbol or series of symbols. These will denote its type, its purity and authenticity. Each country has a different stamp system, so it can easily vary.
If the seal is present, it is most likely to be sterling silver, although other verification methods exist to confirm this.
In case you do not find a present stamp or symbol, it is probable that the piece is only bathed in silver.
In the United States, you will generally be marked with any of the following:"925","0.925"or"S925". This denotation indicates that the piece in question possesses 92.5% of silver and 7.5% of other metals.
In the United Kingdom, they are identified by the presence of a stamp in the form of a lion, a city seal or a letter that will symbolize the date and indicative of the sponsor.
In France, a seal is placed with Minerva's head for sterling silver and a vase for pure silver.
Due to the sound
When it is genuine, when striking the object (with fingers or a metal coin), it should sound like a bell, with a sharp sound that lasts for 1 to 2 seconds.
In case of not producing a sound similar to that described, we will be in the presence of an object that is not of sterling silver.
This procedure must be performed with extreme care to avoid dents and marks.
Silver does not have any odor, so if you smell a strong odor for a while, it is possible that the object is not sterling silver and has a high copper content.
The alloy between silver and copper is extremely common, but it is only considered sterling silver if it complies with the appropriate percentages of 92.5% and if so, it would not possess as much copper in it as to give off some kind of odor. This only occurs when there is a higher copper content.
Silver is a soft and flexible metal so you can try to fold it with your hands, in case you can do this easily it is likely that the object is pure silver or sterling.
If it does not bend easily, it does not pass the test and it is not sterling silver.
Other verification methods
- Oxidation test: the silver when exposed to the air, oxidizes and this causes the metal to become dirty and to become darker.
To perform this test you must rub the object with a clean white cloth and then check the fabric, if you notice black spots the item may be silver.
- Magnetism: silver is not a ferrous or magnetic material, when passing a powerful magnet on the object, it should not be attracted. If the object is glued to the magnet, then it does not contain sterling silver, it may be composed of polished stainless steel.
- Ice test: the conductivity rate of the silver is higher than that of other metals, which is why the heat extremely fast.
This test can be done by placing two ice cubes: one on the object and the other on the table. In case it is sterling silver, the ice cube that is on the object will melt much faster than the one on the table.
Another way to perform this test is by filling a container with several ice cubes, you must place the silver object and a non-silver object of similar size in the ice water. The silver object should cool to the touch after 10 seconds and the other non-silver object will not cool so quickly.
- There are also other tests performed by experts such as: evaluation by an appraiser or graduate jeweler, nitric acid test, evaluation in a laboratory, etc.
- History of Sterling Silver. Taken from silvergallery.com.
- Types of silver. Taken from modelarcilla.com.
- What is sterling silver jewelry? Taken from ouro-diamantes.net.
- What is 925 sterling silver and how to identify it? (2016). Taken from prjewel.com.