A Closer Look at 925 Sterling Silver: Characteristics, Quality, and Durability

925 sterling silver, commonly known as sterling silver, is an alloy jewelers create by mixing silver with another metal (mainly copper). The 925 stands for 92.5% silver, while 7.5% of the alloy comprises copper. For centuries, jewelers have made many beautiful pieces out of sterling silver, which remains a popular metal in the industry.

Is .925 Sterling Silver Real?

 .925 Sterling Silver
.925 Sterling Silver Ring

Jewelers universally consider sterling silver to be real silver. Since such an overwhelming majority of the alloy is silver, it’s impossible not to label it as real silver. In comparison, gold jewelry in the United States must consist of at least 41.6% gold or ten karats.

 .925 Sterling Silver Bracelet
.925 Sterling Silver Bracelet

People first began to use sterling silver in Europe around the 12th century as an alternative to pure 99.9% silver. Silver is a relatively soft metal like gold, making it challenging to work with. When silver is alloyed with another metal, it is a tougher metal that’s easier for jewelers to use in jewelry production.

How Much is 925 Sterling Silver Worth?

Some sterling silver pieces can cost a few dollars, with others worth thousands. Several unstable factors determine the price of sterling silver.

  • Price of Silver
    Since sterling silver consists mainly of silver, the cost of silver influences that of sterling silver a lot. Knowing the current price of silver will give you an idea of how much your sterling silver piece will cost.
    The price of silver is never stable; it’s constantly fluctuating and is influenced by other economic factors. At the time of writing, the cost of silver is around $18/ounce or $579/kg. The all-time highest price of silver was in January 1980 and April 2011, when the price reached $50/ounce or $1608/kg.
  • Jewelry Size
    Generally speaking, the larger the size of your sterling silver piece, the more it’ll cost. All things being equal, a ring will not be as expensive as an elaborate sterling silver necklace.
  • Manufacturer
    The brand name behind every product matters; this is true of your sterling silver jewelry too. Trying to buy a sterling silver piece from a designer brand will cost more than buying from a generic store.
  • Gemstones/Jewels
    The presence of jewels or gemstones on a jewelry piece can dramatically cause its price to skyrocket. It is not uncommon to find sterling silver jewelry with diamonds attached to them. If you’re unsure that your gemstone is a real diamond, you can read this article to learn how to do it. 
.925 Sterling Silver Engagement Ring
.925 Sterling Silver Engagement Ring
  • Antique Piece
    Sterling silver jewelry can last for decades and even centuries; that’s why you’ll find many sterling silver antique pieces. These antique pieces are usually more expensive than regular jewelry.

How Long Does it Last?

Sterling silver jewelry will last around 10 – 20 years of constant use. However, if you take special care of your piece, it can last much longer. Longevity is a primary reason many people buy sterling silver for use as family heirlooms. 

Caring for 925 Sterling Silver

The durability and beauty of your sterling silver piece depend mainly on how well you take care of it. Without proper care, even the best quality sterling silver piece will soon begin to look undesirable. Some ways to care for sterling silver are:

Keep it Dry

Clean water will not adversely affect sterling silver. However, humid and moist conditions can speed up tarnishing if you have exposed your piece to tarnish-inducing chemicals. 

Most of the water we’re exposed to nowadays isn’t regular clean water. Chlorine–a harsh chemical that can cause your silver to tarnish– is present in nearly all swimming pools, and some taps and showers contain chlorine too. Therefore, keeping your sterling silver jewelry out of the shower and pool is best.

Store it Properly

Do not jam all your jewelry in a bag or purse when you want to store them. The various pieces can scratch each other as they come in contact with one another. Also, storing some types of metal close to sterling silver can cause your jewelry to begin tarnishing.

Anti Tarnish Jewelry Bag
Anti Tarnish Jewelry Bags

The best way to store your jewelry is in individual anti-tarnish bags designed to keep air and moisture away from your jewelry. Additionally, you can use silica gel or anti-tarnish strips to remove all the moisture and tarnish-inducing chemicals in the air.

Always unclasp your jewelry before storing it to prevent it from getting tangled and scratched.

Keep it Away From Harmful Chemicals

When dressing up, let your jewelry be the last thing you wear. Some of the chemicals present in products we use daily, like body creams and perfumes, are harmful to your sterling silver jewelry. Putting on your jewelry last is a practical way to protect the chemicals from coming in contact with it.

Sweat is another killer of sterling silver, so you shouldn’t wear your jewelry when you want to engage in sporting activities. Interestingly, an egg is also not a good item to bring near your sterling silver jewelry because it contains sulfur, a major cause of tarnish.

Clean it

Cleaning your sterling silver jewelry helps to keep it shining and looking brand new. Always clean your jewelry regularly with a microfiber cloth will remove most of the dust particles that might be settling on it. Better still, you can use a silver polishing cloth to remove any early signs of tarnish on the jewelry.

microfiber cloth
Microfiber cloth

Occasionally, you should wash your jewelry with dishwashing soap and water, drying it properly after washing.

Sometimes, a jeweler might purposely oxidize some portions of your jewelry, giving it a patina effect. Do not rub those portions too aggressively; if not, you’ll clean the effect away, giving your jewelry a bland look.

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