What Is Sterling Silver?
For jewelry sterling silver is by far the most popular silver alloy in the world. Sterling silver, also called .925 silver, consists of 92.5 percent fine silver and 7.5 percent other metals (usually copper). Manufacturers use sterling silver because of its strength and durability.
Jewelry is often plated with a thin layer of .999 fine silver. This process is known as flashing, and it gives the item a shiny finish. Some factories will apply a plating of nickel or copper on the jewelry prior to applying the .999 silver plating. Other silver items are rhodium plated, which again results in a bright, shiny finish. Some jewelry items may be gold plated or left unplated depending on the design. Flashing or plating silver jewelry also helps reduce irritation or discoloration for customers with sensitive skin.
How Can I Keep My Sterling Silver Items Looking Great?
Sterling silver is susceptible to tarnish which is a natural reaction the metal has with chemicals. Frequent light polishing with a polishing cloth designed for sterling silver will help minimize tarnish. You can also wash your jewelry periodically with mild dish soap and water. Be sure to rinse well and dry completely before putting your jewelry away.
Minimize tarnishing of your sterling silver jewelry by keeping them in a plastic bag. Small ziplock baggies work great for this..
Tarnish can be easily removed when first noticed. However, if left untreated, the color of the tarnish will darken and will become more difficult to remove, requiring professional cleaning.
It is also important to avoid exposing sterling silver jewelry to harsh chemicals like chlorine, cosmetics, hair spray, and perfume, and to avoid extended exposure to direct sunlight.