Everything You Need to Know About Silver Jewelry
If you absolutely adore silver jewelry, you’re not alone. Humans have been obsessed with this lovely lustrous metal for thousands of years. Go to any number of museums (or break out your metal detector, whatever you prefer) and discover ancient silver relics that have long retained their value. These artifacts include fine utensils, religious objects, currency, and, of course, stunning displays of silver jewelry.
A Brief History of Silver
Recognizable efforts to mine for silver began long ago, at around 3000 BC. Silver supported the rise of many great empires, including the Greeks and later the Romans. It was eventually used by traders worldwide, and silver mines began appearing in China, Japan, Spain, and all across Europe.
A monumental event in silver’s history was when Columbus discovered the New World in 1492. Massive amounts of silver were found in the Americas, particularly in Mexico and South America. In 1794, the U.S. silver dollar was minted, sparking the United States’ love affair with silver, resulting in the production of the contemporary sterling silver jewelry you see today.
Like gold, pure silver is too malleable to form a piece of jewelry. To increase its strength, additional metals are added to create an alloy. This silver alloy is known as “sterling silver.” Sterling silver is always referred to as “925,” which indicates that it is comprised of 92.5% silver, and 7.5% alternative metals. We use silver that has been alloyed with copper and zinc instead of nickel, making it perfect for those with nickel allergies.
To make sure that your silver jewelry is truly sterling silver, look for a stamp somewhere on the piece. It should say something like 925 or SS. If there isn’t a stamp of authenticity, it’s probably not silver!
Brilliant Earth’s silver jewelry is handcrafted from 100% recycled sterling silver, so you never have to worry about the negative environmental impact of additional silver mining.
Sterling Silver Earrings and Pendants
Sterling silver jewelry offers sophisticated designs at a lower price point than gold or platinum, which makes silver jewelry the perfect gift for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, or as special gifts for kids who have just gotten their ears pierced or are celebrating a special graduation.
Sterling silver earrings come in a range of contemporary styles, including stud, dangle, leaf, and drop designs. (All of our silver studs come with push backs for a comfortable fit!) These earrings are perfect for everyday wear, but they also serve as sophisticated, sparkling jewelry for a formal event.
Our silver pendants are artfully crafted into designs such as hearts, birds, infinity symbols, and even zodiac constellations. Many of our sterling silver pieces even features gorgeous semi-precious gemstones or glittering Canadian diamonds!
How to Care for Your Silver Jewelry
To keep your silver earrings and pendants looking good as new, make sure that you clean and store them properly.
Why does silver tarnish?
Silver tarnishes when it comes in contact with oxygen. When silver is close to your skin it actually helps to slow down the tarnishing process—it even gives it a bit of self-polish! Keep in mind, however, that a silver piece should be wiped off with a polishing cloth before being stored, as our body chemistry can actually cause the silver to tarnish faster once it is away from our skin.
What do I do if my silver jewelry is already tarnished?
If your silver jewelry is tarnished, don’t panic. Cleaning it is a simple fix. Beth Moore, Brilliant Earth’s senior gemologist tells us, “Silver is best cared for by using a silver polishing cloth. These cloths have a chemical that helps to remove tarnish and bring back its bright luster. Polishing your silver can even remove superficial scratches, unlike gold and platinum. Silver holds the highest metallic luster of all the metals, so when it is shined up, it will always appear the brightest!”
As for storage, Beth says, “To help prevent tarnish during storage, we recommend purchasing tarnish paper, which the silver can either be fully wrapped in, or a small square can be cut and placed in the box or pouch to slow the process. Placing a piece of tarnish paper with a piece of jewelry in a sealed Ziploc bag with the air pressed out will slow it down even more. Make sure to keep up with your silver, because like rust on iron, silver can tarnish beyond just the surface layer, which can permanently affect the looks and durability of the piece.”
Other Ways to Care for Your Silver
Chemicals such as chlorine can prematurely tarnish a piece of silver jewelry, so make sure that you remove your silver before jumping in the pool or (as the weather gets colder) the hot tub! Also remember that sterling silver can bend easily, so you want to avoid putting direct stress on the piece.