Silver jewellery explained
Used for anything from currency to jewellery to ornate keepsakes, silver is one of the most common precious metals. Most silver jewellery is actually an alloy made by mixing pure silver with another metal such as copper. This alloy is called sterling silver and it is much more durable than pure silver making it more ideal for jewellery. Silver, like gold jewellery, is graded by its pure silver content.
Sterling silver contains 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% nickel or copper, it can be identified by a 925 stamp which denotes its authenticity. It is also possible to find fine silver jewellery which is 99.9% pure, though this is much less common as it is usually considered too soft for jewellery making. This is marked with a 999 hallmark. When polished, silver is a shiny grey-white though it is easily tarnished over time, becoming dulled and much darker.
The advantages and disadvantages of silver jewellery
There are many reasons for the popularity of sterling silver in jewellery making, but there are also some important considerations to make when choosing between silver and other white metals such as white gold and platinum. To help you make the most suitable choice for your jewellery needs, we have created a guide to the advantages and disadvantages of silver jewellery.
The advantages of silver jewellery
The major advantage that silver and sterling silver have over other metals is their affordability. While silver is not exactly a cheap material, silver jewellery doesn’t command the higher prices of white gold and platinum and the lower cost makes it an attractive prospect for jewellery lovers who love its pale sheen and like to purchase jewellery regularly.
As well as being affordable, sterling silver is a relatively soft metal so jewellery made from it tends to be quite lightweight. This makes it a good option for rings as they will not feel too weighty on the hand. A chunky sterling silver band will not be as weighty as an 18k white gold band of the same measurements, so it can sometimes be ideal for more petite wearers.
Silver is a flattering colour for all skin tones and is beautiful on fair and dark skin alike. As it is a pale grey-white it goes well with most outfits without looking out of place, and works well with other metals and stones to create a range of styles.
The disadvantages of silver jewellery
Despite its popularity, silver jewellery, pure or sterling, comes with some distinct disadvantages. Key amongst these is the fact that sterling silver tarnishes very quickly, becoming dull and discoloured. This happens because, unlike gold, sterling silver reacts with oxygen and moisture and develops a layer of oxidised metal at the surface.
While this darkened layer can be cleaned off, it will only tarnish again very soon afterwards so it takes a lot of upkeep to maintain its shine. As well as causing discolouration to the metal, oxidation can transfer to your skin leaving an unsightly mark. Fine silver is more resistant to tarnishing but is vulnerable in other ways. If you are wondering what are the best ways to keep your jewels in stunning condition, you can have a look at our jewellery care guide.
As mentioned previously, sterling silver and particularly fine silver are much softer than other precious metals, so you can expect your sterling silver and fine silver jewellery to be vulnerable to bending under pressure as well as being easy to scratch and dent. It can also be quite easy to accidentally compress a piece of silver jewellery, deforming it completely.
As silver is usually mixed with other, cheaper metals to create the sterling silver alloy, many women find that sterling silver jewellery causes discomfort when worn for any length of time. Women with allergies to metals like nickel can experience swelling, pain, and redness of the skin where it has been in contact with sterling silver so they should avoid it completely.
Despite its relative affordability, silver is temperamental and can be time consuming to maintain. There are other, cheaper metals such as stainless steel which give you the pale gleam of silver with far fewer disadvantages, so if price is your most important factor when choosing jewellery then you might want to consider stainless steel as an alternative.
Choosing silver or white gold jewellery
You may be wondering whether white gold is a better alternative to silver, and generally speaking we strongly believe that white gold is the superior choice. Not only does white gold have a more pure, gleaming white look than silver, it is also a much better material for making chic, modern jewellery.
White gold is made by adding pale coloured metals to molten gold which gives it its sparkling white hue. The gleam of 18k white gold is a thing of beauty, though it is slightly less white than platinum. Silver and palladium are often used as they not only make the gold whiter and brighter, but stronger too.
The purity of white gold is measured in the same way as yellow gold using the karat grading system. To give white gold its colour it needs to contain enough of another metal, so most white gold tends to be between 9k and 18k, with 18k being the most popular and beautiful.
Unlike silver, white gold does not tarnish so it can be worn for a long time between cleans. Its low-maintenance and laid back nature makes it perfect for women who want to enjoy their favourite jewellery every day without needing to clean and maintain it regularly.
Fine white gold is incredibly strong, in fact it’s much stronger than silver and even platinum. Thanks to its impressive durability, white gold is ideal for crafting into long lasting designs which can be treasured for a lifetime and become much-loved heirlooms.
Jewellery made from 18k white gold can be made more intricately than other metals while still being tough enough to withstand the stresses of daily wear, this strength also makes it possible for jewellery designers to securely incorporate gorgeous natural stones such as diamonds.
Lovers of jewellery, therefore, can enjoy much more choice when it comes to selecting white gold pieces for their jewellery collection rather than silver. AS29’s curated white gold fine jewellery has been lovingly crafted to suit the modern lives of women today and will quickly become a firm favourite.
For more information about fine jewellery and other of materials, check out our jewellery guides.