What is sterling silver?
Sterling silver is an alloy that contains 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metal – usually copper. Pure silver is too soft to use for jewellery, adding copper (or another metal such as cobalt, zinc or chromium) makes the silver stronger and more resistant to tarnish while still being malleable enough to shape into jewellery.
Is sterling silver Hypoallergenic?
There is no agreed upon scientific or legal definition of the word hypoallergenic, but broadly speaking it means a product contains few allergy producing substances. Sterling silver contains only a few ingredients (as detailed above) which reduces the risk of it causing an allergic reaction. Although nickel is not an ingredient in sterling silver, we cannot legally say that it is ‘nickel free’ as there is always the potential for traces of nickel contamination in the machining of the individual items (like everything nowadays has ‘may contain traces of nuts’ on the packaging), however it is classed as ultra-low nickel. Most people who want to wear nickel free jewellery can wear sterling silver, however very sensitive skins can react to the alloy metal that is used, or even the silver itself.
Will sterling silver turn my finger green?
The answer is on most people no, but on some…possibly yes.
If your finger turns green from wearing sterling silver it is because of a chemical reaction between the metal and the natural acidity of your skin. Skins normal PH is 5.5 (slightly acidic), but diet, medication and soaps/cosmetics can temporarily cause a change in ph, which may mean that a ring that has previously been fine causes a green mark. There is no way to know until you wear a piece of silver, and even then this may change over time. Leaving a green mark doesn’t mean that the silver is poor quality, it is just an occasional, but natural occurrence. Eye makeup remover is a good way to remove and green finer discolouration.
Will the silver go black/why has it gone black?
All metals oxidise when they come into contact with air, moisture or chemicals, and silver is no different. Normal silver tarnish starts off as a slight yellowing of the surface, which then gets progressively darker the longer it is left without polishing. This type of tarnish will polish of easily using a cleaning cloth. Rapid tarnishing can happen when silver comes into contact with chemicals such as chlorine or ammonia, turning the surface of the silver instantly black. This type of tarnish is harder to shift and will usually need the use of silver wadding or silver cleaning fluid. As a general rule, we do not recommend the use of these harsh cleaners unless all other options have been tried. This is because the process often involves chemicals that are designed to dissolve the tarnish layer, which can damage the silver underneath. This may eventually lead to a permanent dulling of the silver. If using any silver cleaning fluids, ensure that the piece is thoroughly rinsed with a mild soap and clean water afterwards. Never use silver cleaning fluid on stones or shell.
How to care for sterling silver?
Sterling silver will last for years with some basic upkeep. Follow these steps to keep your silver shining:
- The best way to keep silver shining is to wear your silver. The natural oils in your skin will clean the silver and prevent tarnish.
- Should a surface layer of tarnish appear, you can simply polish this off using an Essential Sterling Silver Polishing Cloth.
- It is best to clean off any surface oil or dirt using warm water and a mild soap. A soft bristled toothbrush can be used to gently buff the jewellery to ensure a thorough clean. All soap products should be thoroughly rinsed off with clean water to avoid any residue being left on the silver. Leave your silver to dry and buff with a soft cloth before storing.
- Silver should be stored away from air to prevent oxidisation when not being worn. We recommend using a small resealable plastic bag for each piece of your silver – not the most glamorous of jewellery storage options but it will certainly keep your silver in the best condition! Individual bagging will also prevent scratching from pieces rubbing against each other.
- We recommend removing jewellery before swimming in chlorinated pools or Jacuzzis.
- It is best to remove your jewellery before showering. Heavily scented soaps can cause silver to discolour.
- Always ensure any perfume or body lotion is fully absorbed by your skin before putting on your jewellery.
- Although there is no issue with sleeping in your silver, we would recommend removing any delicate pieces before getting into bed. Silver is a soft metal and finer pieces could easily break by some tossing and turning.
- We recommend removing your jewellery before exercising. The salt found in your sweat can cause surface corrosion of silver, which can sometimes leave a black mark on your skin.