When it comes to precious metals, silver often plays second fiddle to gold. It’s cheaper and it’s only been around since 3000 BC, while gold mining’s been on the go 1000 years earlier.
Both are valuable in their own right, although gold is more expensive and more abundant than silver. Silver tarnishes slightly more easily than gold and is also lighter. However, there’s one place where silver stands up to gold and that’s in the jewelry market, especially when it comes to 925 silver.
So, what is 925 silver and why is it so popular?
What is 925 Silver and why is it a Good Option for Jewelry?
The three main types of silver on the market today are pure silver, silver plate, and sterling silver.
In its natural state, pure silver is an excellent conductor of electricity and also has antibacterial qualities. As such, it’s often used in the technological and medical fields.
Its also used in solder, batteries, and electrical contacts, as well as for dental and brazing alloys. It’s the best natural reflector of light on Earth and thus used in photography and all kinds of mirrors.
However, on its own silver’s too soft for jewelry, which is where 925 sterling silver enters the picture. This type of silver contains 92.5% silver mixed with a stronger metal such as copper to reinforce it.
When you add another metal to silver in such small quantities, it does nothing to detract from the enduring beauty of silver, but it does make it stronger. On its own pure silver is too malleable for jewelry, it warps easily and loses its attractive design.
With the addition of copper to strengthen it, sterling silver’s used to create beautifully intricate designs for rings, necklaces, bracelets, and more.
Silverplate is silver that’s sprayed onto a metal, like copper or nickel silver, to add an attractive silver appearance to items like dinnerware.
Why Choose 925 Sterling Silver?
Many people view gold as a little ostentatious and thus prefer the elegant hues of silver, platinum, or palladium instead. Since silver is much cheaper than these other rare metals.
You can get wholesale necklaces in 925 silver for just over $5 each. This makes 925 sterling silver a clear winner for the jewelry enthusiast.
Price isn’t the only benefit 925 sterling silver brings to the table though. It also has several other valuable qualities, like:
Thanks to the addition of a second metal, sterling silver rings and other jewelry can stand up to everyday wear and tear. That means, sterling silver jewelry can last a lifetime with very little extra care.
Since silver’s easy to work with, there are few limits to the designs that jewelers can concoct with it. It’s easy to find or custom design trendy, classic, or vintage jewelry designs with sterling silver.
Thanks to the lovely, inconspicuous color of silver, it never goes out of fashion either and matches any outfit or occasion.
Silver is a top choice for those who develop skin reactions when they wear jewelry. This makes it the perfect choice for people with sensitive skin.
Although silver’s cheaper than other equally attractive pale metals, some jewelry manufacturers still try to pass off silver-plated items as the real thing. At first glance these cheap imitations may look exactly like the real thing, so how do you tell the difference?
Shopping for Authentic Sterling Silver Jewelry
When you shop at a reputable jewelry store, you shouldn’t have any problems with the authenticity of your jewelry. However, half the fun of buying in jewelry comes from hunting it down at thrift shops, garage sales, or auctions.
In these cases, there are a few ways to check the authenticity of 925 silver jewelry.
Look for a Stamp or Hallmark
All sterling silver items have a hallmark printed on them somewhere. It’s illegal for plated silver to have any stamp or hallmark on its surface.
Look for a small inscription on the inside of a 925 silver ring or on the clasp of a 925 silver chain. In some cases the imprint may be so small you’ll need a magnifying glass to read it.
The stamp usually has the symbols ‘Ster’, ‘925’, or ‘sterling silver’. This is the most important thing to look for when shopping for genuine silver jewelry.
The Nitric Acid Test
This test’s usually used by jewelers to determine authenticity if a silver piece doesn’t have a stamp, or if they suspect an item’s stamped illegally.
When you drop nitric acid onto genuine sterling silver, nothing happens. However, silver-plated or imitation silver jewelry starts to bubble and turn green.
The Magnet Test
Pure silver isn’t magnetic, and nor is sterling silver due to its high silver content. If you place a magnet above or near an object with less than 92.5% silver, or a silver-plated object, it’ll move towards the magnet.
The Rub Test
Silver oxidizes when exposed to air. So, if you rub a silver item with a soft cloth, the cloth should come away with black marks on it.
Silver is odorless. So, if the item has a metallic smell when you sniff it, it probably contains a high percentage of some other metal.
While substandard silver imitations may look just as good as the real thing at first, they won’t stand up to the daily grind for long. To avoid disappointment, it’s best to check every jewelry item’s authenticity before you buy it.
Get the Best Value
The main reason to ensure you’re buying the real thing is that you don’t want to get ripped off.
What is 925 silver worth? While prices fluctuate, sterling silver is worth about 58 cents a gram compared to nickel valued at 5 cents. That means you could be paying ten times what an item is worth if you don’t check that it’s 925 silver through and through.
It’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to most things, so keep reading my blog for the straight-shooting facts about health, fitness, and pretty much anything else you want to know about.