The beauty of silver jewelry lies in its ageless appeal. Although there are people who see sterling silver as a less exquisite alternative to gold jewelry, the fact is that this noble metal is the ideal combination of beauty and durability. When taken care of properly, a sterling silver jewelry will not tarnish easily, and can last for years to come. However, it pays to keep in mind that not all silver jewelry is created equal and that you need to consider several different factors when purchasing a sterling silver to ensure that you will get your money’s worth with your purchase.
Here, we cover must-know tips, from Fraser Ross, to help you shop for silver jewelry with confidence:
Jewelers are required by the law to imprint a .925 stamp to sterling silver jewelries to identify them as 92.5% pure silver. These stamps are usually imprinted in discreet places and are very small that it can be difficult to see them. As such, it is important to check the underside of a bracelet or the inside of a silver ring for the .925 stamp, which indicates that the jewelry meets silver quality standards.
Another tip when buying silver jewelry is to be wary of Chinese Silver that is imprinted with a “S925” mark. Chinese Silver is not to be confused with Scandinavian Silver, which is made with 92.5% silver and also carries the “S925” stamp. One way you can distinguish one from the other is to evaluate the look of the stamp. Scandinavian Silver has bigger markings that look professional and clean cut, while Chinese Silver carries markings that are illegible and are smaller in size.
Evaluating the smell, look, and feel of the silver
You don’t need any special tools for this. Just use your senses to perform a number of tests on the silver jewelry you are looking to buy.
- Run your fingers through the silver ring or bracelet – an authentic silver should feel warm when you repeatedly press on the metal, and will feel slightly cold when you first touch it. It should also feel smooth and solid to the touch with a decent weight. If it feels too sturdy, you may be looking at a piece of jewelry that has a high content of other metals rather than pure silver.
- Another way to evaluate the quality of the silver is to get to know the look of authentic silver jewelries. A genuine silver will have a little shine to it, but not be too shiny that it resembles silver plated pieces. If a piece of jewelry has distorted colors and poor craftsmanship, then you are probably looking at a fake one.
- Your sense of smell will also help you spot a fake silver jewelry. If a silver ring or bracelet has an unpleasant odor, then it is more likely fake, as real sterling silver does not exude any distinct smell.
Tarnished silver jewelry
Silver naturally tarnishes over time, so if you find a piece that is tarnished, remember that it’s not exactly a bad thing. Sterling silver contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other metals, primarily copper or nickel. These other metals cause the tarnishing reaction on sterling silver. When you take off a real silver and let it sit in areas with high humidity, the tarnishing process speeds up and the silver jewelry turns black. When this happens, you may think that the plating is coming off the silver jewelry, when in fact, there is no plating in a real silver and you can still polish it to return the shiny tone of the jewelry. On the contrary, fake silver will lose its silver polish to reveal a number of pretend metals underneath. So the next time you are in the market for a new sterling silver, do not judge a silver jewelry by its tarnish, but rather keep in mind that the shine of a real silver can return with proper care and maintenance.
Watch out for silver plated jewelries
Silver plated jewelries are relatively cheaper, allowing you to purchase more pieces. But the biggest disadvantage of this kind of jewelry is that you get exactly what you pay for. This means that you are investing in an item that does not offer very much return on investment.
Silver plated jewelries are made of non-precious metals like brass or nickel, and are coated with a thin layer of silver to give them the effect of a real silver. Sure, you can buy silver plated jewelries for a fraction of the cost of a genuine silver but remember that they don’t have the same value as real silver, and that the plating will inevitably wear away to reveal the lower layer of cheap metals that make up the jewelry.
If you have sensitive skin, it is also best to you avoid plated jewelries, as the nickel in plated pieces can cause itchy rashes to appear on your arm or around your neck.