When shopping for jewellery that is beautiful and will last for years, most people opt for sterling silver. It is incredibly versatile with pieces that are sometimes chunky and others that are so delicate you’re almost afraid to touch them. Sterling silver jewellery is also affordable. The main reason for this is that silver is much more common than gold, platinum, and other precious metals.
From animal-inspired jewellery and tiny sterling silver charms to highly detailed ornaments and finely crafted dinnerware. There is almost no end to what people have made using sterling silver. And if the piece doesn’t turn out quite as planned then it is less of a loss than if they’d been attempting it using gold or other precious metals.
But as with all jewellery, you will find some items that are of a lower standard or overall quality than others. So when shopping for your sterling jewellery in Australia, here are a few important things to keep in mind.
Know What Sterling Silver Is
Before you start shopping for sterling silver jewellery, you should know what exactly sterling silver is. A common misconception is that it is pure silver. But pure silver is actually too soft to be used for jewellery that is worn regularly. Because of its malleability, pure silver is prone to warping and is easily dented over time.
Unlike pure silver, sterling silver isn’t prone to warping because it is an alloy or two metals combined. Alloys are used when someone wants to combine the properties of two or more different metals for any reason. With sterling silver, the second metal often used is copper, but it can sometimes be a combination of other metals chosen for their strength and durability.
Check the Authenticity
When it comes to sterling silver the most important thing is authenticity. All true sterling silver jewellery contains 92.5 percent pure silver and the rest is an alloy. What alloy the silversmith uses doesn’t matter as long as it is used to make the silver stronger. And any authentic sterling jewellery will always have this quality mark stamped somewhere on it.
Federal trademark law requires that any sterling silver must include this or other trades marks indicating that it is sterling silver. So the tiniest silver earrings will have this mark somewhere on them, even if it required special laser engraving tools to make it and needs a high powered magnifying glass to be seen.
Be Aware of “Plated” Silver
You are more likely to see the word “plated” with gold jewellery. However, silver plated jewellery is almost as common. If something has been silver plated, it is not sterling silver. Instead, it has been made with a cheaper metal and then coated or plated with silver. How this plating was done can vary, but the point is that it is simply a “paint job”.
Two popular cheap metals used in jewellery manufacturing are copper and nickel. They’re both durable, versatile and incredibly affordable. You may have noticed that your silver ring leaves a green band on your finger when you wear it. This is your skin reacting to the nickel or copper beneath the silver.
Test the Quality of the Item
A lot of people believe that 7.5 percent alloy in sterling silver is what affects the value and integrity. But this is not true. What influences these are the design of the piece and the quality of the craftsmanship. Almost anyone could make something out of sterling silver with the right tools.
But the quality will depend on their level of skill and experience. With sterling silver jewellery, the easiest way to test the quality is to check the clasps, how well gems or other additional elements have been set, and how well finer details have been executed. Clasps should be secure, and a few sharp tugs shouldn’t loosen them. However, it should be easy to open.
Get Full Details About the Piece
Whether you are shopping online, or have visited a brick and mortar store – the seller should be able to tell you everything about the piece. The specific details they should be able to provide is where the 925 hallmark is located, what the sterling silver used to craft the piece is comprised of, and who designed the piece.
In the case of some mass-produced sterling silver items, information on the designer may not be as easy to obtain. But with finer pieces such as custom pendants, sterling silver engagement rings and high-quality charm bracelets, they should be able to provide all the details. If the seller is hesitant to answer this or can’t provide the information at all, then it may be best to look elsewhere.
Your Personal Style
Last but not least is your personal style. Or if you are buying sterling silver jewellery as a gift for someone – then their personal style. Because sterling silver is more affordable than gold and many other precious metals used to craft fine jewellery, silversmiths are willing to push the bounds of their creativity when creating their masterpieces.
This means that the range and style of sterling silver jewellery available today is incredible. If you prefer chunky jewellery and heavy pendants, there will be sterling silver varieties of almost anything you can imagine. If you prefer jewellery that is delicate and finely crafted, you’re guaranteed to find just the thing you’re looking for.
And if no one has created exactly what you’re looking for, you can always approach a jewellery manufacturer or silversmith to help bring your vision to life!
Sterling silver jewellery is as popular as it is for many reasons. But the affordability and thus the freedom this allows silversmiths means that the options when it comes to sterling silver jewellery are practically limitless. Because it is affordable, it is a popular choice for people who tend to have allergic reactions to fashion jewellery, and also as a gift for the younger generation.
But the affordability does not mean that sterling silver jewellery is “cheap” though because some of the finest pieces of jewellery in the world have been crafted with sterling silver!