Of all of the metals in existence, silver is the most lustrous. Its bright, white luster has been cherished and used as decoration for thousands of years. Its popularity and value have risen in the last two decades, leading jewelers to create new designs to tap into the growing market. While a precious metal, its affordability compared to gold has made it more economical for jewelers and designers and a popular substitute among the public.
Sterling silver jewelry is durable and generally lasts a lifetime. Sterling silver is composed of 92.5 percent silver, with the remainder usually copper. Though pure silver is a soft metal, it is alloyed with copper or other metals to add strength to the metal. Though silver is susceptible to tarnish over time as it comes into contact with the air, it is very easy to polish with a special cloth or mildly abrasive cream. Silver also tarnishes more slowly when frequently worn, given that the oils on the skin protect the metal from tarnish.
Sterling silver is usually hallmarked or stamped with words or characters to denote that it meets specific criteria to be sold as such. It may be stamped with “925,” “Sterling,” “Sterling silver,” “St silver,” or similar variations. “925” simply means that the piece is 92.5 percent silver, or 925 out of 1000 parts.
Despite being the most lustrous metal, even more so than gold and platinum, silver is more affordable than gold and platinum. Because silver is more abundant within the Earth’s crust than gold and platinum, it has historically been significantly cheaper to buy than these metals. Historically, gold has been about 15 times more expensive than silver by weight, whereas today gold is approximately 70 times more expensive than silver by weight. Platinum, which like silver is a white metal, is currently about 50 times more expensive than silver by weight. For budget-conscious consumers looking for eye-catching jewelry, sterling silver is a popular alternative to gold and platinum.
Though fashions come and go, especially regarding jewelry, sterling silver is always in demand as a precious metal. Because silver is less expensive for jewelers and designers, they are freer to experiment with new designs to appeal to the market without a fear of substantial losses as with gold. Given the greater cost of gold, jewelers tend to be more conservative with their offerings of the yellow metal, limiting the options for consumers. Consumers thus have a much greater range of designs to choose from when buying sterling silver.
Sterling silver is also hypoallergenic, meaning that it does not cause allergic reactions as other metals tend to do. Nickle and brass, which are base metals, may cause an itchy rash in some individuals. These rashes can occur where the metal comes into contact with the skin. Reactions to allergies from nickle or brass can take up to a month to resolve. Studies have shown that women are more susceptible to a nickle allergy, possibly due to piercings. Because silver is antimicrobial — meaning it kills germs — it is less likely to cause infections where there are piercings, especially in the ears.
Because of its eternal beauty and affordability, sterling silver will remain popular among consumers and fashionistas. Building an ensemble or collection of sterling silver jewelry is very easy for consumers to do, given how affordable it is. Though fashions come and go, the eye-catching properties and intrinsic value of sterling silver will make those who wear it look and feel better.