Pure silver or fine silver is a relatively soft metal and generally too soft to make long lasting and strong jewellery, so to give pure silver extra strength, it is mixed with a little bit of other metal or metals, usually copper. The standard is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metal and it is this combination which we know as sterling silver. Nickel can be used as a metal in sterling silver or in certain processes of jewellery making, but because nickel can cause allergic reactions in some people, all jewellery on Crowded Silver is nickel free.
Tarnish and how to prevent it
The copper in the sterling silver may cause the sterling silver to tarnish or darken over time. This is a natural process of the sterling silver as it is exposed to hydrogen sulphide which is present both in the air, on our body or in certain materials such as rubber, cotton, wool and some paper products. To reduce tarnishing there are a few steps you can take apart from regular cleaning.
- Before storing, it is important to remove salts, oils and residue from any lotions, perfumes etc by washing gently with a mild detergent or wipe with a soft polish cloth impregnated with a silver cleaning compound. Dry thoroughly.
- Store your sterling silver jewellery in a cool, dry place (if you live in a humid area, store it with a little bag of eg silica to absorb the moisture).
- Wrap each piece in acid free tissue paper.
- Store each wrapped piece in a zip lock plastic bag with the air squeezed out. This is ideal for reducing its contact with the air.
- Avoid storing in paper or cardboard boxes as the paper can contain acid which may accelerate tarnishing.
- Avoid contact with chemicals, such as perfume, hairsprays, chlorine, salt water and household cleaning products.
- Everyday wear of your sterling silver jewellery also helps preventing tarnish as it ‘polishes’ away the tarnish, so enjoy your sterling silver jewellery and wear it as much as possible.
Maintaining sterling silver jewellery
- To avoid scratches, store in individual pouches/bags/compartments or individually wrapped.
- Clean your sterling silver jewellery with a silver cleaning cloth especially for sterling silver. You can purchase a box of 25 Connoisseurs Dry Disposable Wipes from BeYu - simply contact us for details.
- See steps above on how to store your jewellery.
Oxidisation is a heavy build up of tarnish usually in the finer details of the silver piece but some sterling silver jewellery has deliberately been given an oxidised look to create a grey, smoky appearance or to enhance the details of the design. To maintain this oxidised look, do not use commercial silver polish or cleaners or dips as these will remove the oxidisation. Generally you do not need to clean these pieces but if needed, instead let it soak in warm water (not hot) with a little bit of mild detergent and gently dap dry the oxidised jewellery piece.