One of our customers first questions is often to ask how they can tell if a piece of jewellery is sterling silver.
What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is what is known as a metal alloy. This basically means that it is a combination of metals – in this case, 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy (usually copper or zinc)
Why do we use Sterling Silver in our Jewellery?
The vast majority of our own jewellery products are made from sterling silver. Why? Well, firstly it won’t make your neck, arm or ears green ! Secondly, sterling silver, unlike plated metal, is an incredibly durable material – it’s even stronger than gold. In addition, it is lightweight and so an ideal choice for jewellery that is to be worn daily or often, like our gorgeous selection of tiny ear studs.
Sterling silver is not the same as something that is silver plated.
Whenever you see something advertised as "silver-plated" it most often means that the piece itself is made of another metal, and there's simply a thin layer of sterling silver "plated" on top of the item. This can mean that the item wears easier, and that sooner or later, the item will lose it’s silver colour which cannot then be replaced by polishing.
On the other hand, sterling silver can tarnish but can be easily brought back to life with a polish with a silver polishing cloth or agent. Sterling silver tarnishes (oxidises) when it is exposed to air which is why is can blacken over time. This is a sure way to determine that your item is the real thing, though!
So, what about hallmarking?
In the UK, sterling silver items weighing more than 7.78g must be hallmarked by law. A hallmark basically proves the item is made of sterling silver. Look out for a hallmark from one of the four Assay (hallmarking) offices in the UK. It is worth noting that an item simply marked 925 does not necessarily prove an item is sterling silver.
So, how do you determine that your item is the real deal?
Sterling silver is not magnetic
If your jewellery item is attracted to a magnet, you know it is not sterling silver and is most probably a base metal with a silver coloured coating – not the same thing at all!
Sterling silver oxidises
Wipe your piece gently with a soft white cloth – if little black marks appear, this will be the oxidisation of the silver coming off on the cloth
If your piece is weighty enough, it should bear an authentic hallmark as above. Note note all jewellery pieces are heavy enough to legally require a hallmark.
Look out for our exclusive ranges of personalised sterling silver jewellery, perfect for unique gifting and for creating gifts that will last a lifetime.