The Silver Standard: A Basic Guide To Understanding Silver Jewelry

The Silver Standard: A Basic Guide To Understanding Silver Jewelry

Sterling silver is the most luminous precious metals and is popular in the fashion and jewelry industry. People tend to wear silver because of its shiny, bright look that silver jewelry provides.

We’ll help you discover the beauty of silver so that you can wear it as an accessory or give it to a loved one as a special gift. That being said, let’s get onto our guide!

Silver Jewelry History

Although no one knows where silver was first made and recognized, Archaeologists have found silver smelting operations dating back to 4000 BC. During 1400 AD, there were only seven precious metals that existed (Silver, Gold, Mercury, Tin, Lead, Copper, Iron).

Pure Silver Powder Melting

Unlike copper and gold, silver was never in its pure metallic state. This meant that silver had to extracted from its ores before it could be used. Even today, silver is created by mixing other metals such as lead.

Sterling silver was discovered in 1300. During this time King Edward I created a statue stating that all pieces of silver jewelry must follow the Sterling silver standard.

This meant that every article of silver had to be 92.5% pure silver and was tested by craftsmen. If it followed the requirements, the silver would be marked with a leopard head stamp. After the sterling standard was created, we would notice a mass production of silver jewelry throughout the upcoming centuries.

Now, silver is used for more than just jewelry (technology, cars, household appliances, etc.). Even to this day, jewelry makers follow the sterling silver standard to make rings, watches, necklaces, etc. for jewelry aficionados worldwide.

Silver Jewelry Features

Here are silver’s most common properties:

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    Silver is the most reflective and whitest of metals
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    Silver is ductile and malleable. It can be used to make strong wire or turned into small sheets of leaf. This makes it an appealing metal for jewelry maker
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    The % of sterling silver that's not silver is usually nickel or copper. Some silver alloys have traces of Germanium which prevents the silver from tarnishing
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    List Element

Types Of Silver Jewelry

Ever since it was discovered, craftsmen have made a multitude of adaptions and innovative designs with silver. Here are the most common types of silver jewelry that you'll find.


Silver necklaces come in a myriad of designs. For instance, small silver chains are great for daily wear and small pendants. On the other hand, thick silver chains are used as a fashion statement.

Rope chains, box chains, and link chains are completely different, and one chain type might be more appealing to you than the other. Decide if you're going wear pendants on the necklace when you're comparing designs.

Sterling Silver Necklace

Short and long silver necklaces are available. In fact, long necklaces can be doubled over to create a layered appearance. Short necklaces frame your face and keep your pendants closer towards you. Usually, longer necklaces tend to cost most than short necklaces.

Here is a table demonstrating what types of necklaces are accepted:

Necklace Style




Placed above the user’s collarbones



Rests over your collarbones



Rests over the breastbone



Falls under the bustline or the breastbone



Falls either below or to the waist



Because silver is a soft metal, it's more likely to scratch and other forms of damage. Since it can oxidize faster than other metals, silver can turn black on occasion. On some occasions, if the oxidation happens, then you can restore the ring back to normal with a basic jewelry cleaner.

Due to these reasons, silver is a great piece of women's and men's fashion. The only limitation is that silver isn't a popular option for engagement or wedding rings. Its striking luster makes it an attractive choice for right-hand rings and cocktail rings.


Silver bracelets come in multiple lengths. For instance, the most standard length is 18 centimeters or 7 inches. To find your size, use a piece of cloth measuring tape and place it around your wrist.

Alternatively, you can take the bracelet to a jeweler who can adjust it to your size by adding or removing links. Understand that resizing your bracelet is not always a good option for sterling silver bracelets. We suggest trying on the bracelet before you buy it to ensure that it fits yours properly.

Sterling Silver Bracelet

Sterling silver has a “925” hallmark to show its quality. When selecting a silver piece, opt for one that has a simple design. This is because raised design elements and prong settings can snag if they’re worn for too long.

Try matching the bracelet to other pieces such as the earrings or necklace for increased versatility. Neutral colors and plain designs are most useful, but having a bold color can help add some "pizzazz" to your outfit.

If you need a bracelet for formal occasions, let the outfit you're wearing or the dress code decide which bracelet is appropriate.


A pendant is the centerpiece of your necklace and comes in all sizes, materials, and shapes. They are often paired with a necklace of equal length and weight that suits it. For example, a diamond solitaire is matched with a thin chain.

If you are attempting to buy a pendant without the necklace consider the three following things: it’s materials, the size of the pendant, and where the pendant will be placed on the necklace. As a rule of thumb, a small pendant needs a thin necklace while a larger pendant needs a longer, heavier necklace.


Silver is an important component of making common to high-end watches. These are the most common watches that you'll find:

Mechanical Watch

Mechanical watches are powered by a mainspring - a coiled metal wire - that is moved by hand. Once it is wound, the mainspring starts to unwind slowly, which causes the second hand to turn in a sweeping motion around the face of the watch.

On average, mainspring watches are 9-13 inches long. The longer the watch’s mainspring, the longer it can go through windings and the higher the power reserve.



  • No Battery Required: Since it's powered by a mainspring, you need a jeweler to change a battery. If the watch doesn't tick, you can simply wind it back up again
  • Character: Mechanical watches are made by professional craftsmen who have taken hours into making them. If you like watches that are well crafted and appreciate craftsmanship, then consider adding a mechanical watch to your collection
  • Smooth Hand Movement: For some people, the smooth movement of a mechanical watch’s second hand is more appealing quartz watches that make a constant ticking noise
  • Requires Constant Winding: While mechanical watches can go for four days without winding, we suggest that you wind it every day. This can be a nuisance for some that want a watch that works automatically
  • Expensive: The precise engineering and crafting can make a mechanical watch more expensive than digital and quartz watches

Quartz Watches

Quartz silver watches are powered by electricity, affordable and are more accurate than mechanical watches. Also, the watch has a higher durability than automatic and mechanical watches. Because of this, quartz watches are more used for field and sporting events.



  • Accurate: With quartz watches, you don’t have to worry about it accidentally adding or removing seconds. This gives it the most accurate movements out of all of the watches
  • Durable: Since they have less moving parts, quartz watches can survive drops and being immersed in water. If you have a job that requires an intense amount of work, then a quartz watch is perfect for you
  • Affordable: You can obtain a quartz watch for a few dollars. While more high-end quartz watches are more than a hundred dollars, they are always cheaper than automatic and mechanical varieties
  • Lack of Smooth Movement: Quartz watches have a staggered second hand. This makes it less smooth than an automatic or mechanical watch

Automatic Watches

Automatic watches are similar to mechanical watches, but they don't require the user to wind the watch for it to keep ticking manually. Instead, your daily movements winds up the watch. Hence why they are referred to as "self-winding" watches.

When you’re not wearing an automatic watch, you should place it inside of a watch winder. This small device helps the watch rotate in a circular motion when its stored so it can remain wound. If your watch has special features like a date display or a calendar.



  • No Winding Required: If you don’t want to manually hand-wind your watch, but you want the timeless appearance of a mechanical watch, automatic watches provide a good compromise
  • Smooth Movement: Just like mechanical watches, automatic watches have a simple yet smooth movement
  • Character: Automatic watches take the same amount of precise crafting and engineering as a mechanical watch
  • Environmentally Sensitive: The same environmental factors that can negatively affect a mechanical watch will do the same for an automatic one
  • Has To Be Stored When Not in Use: Even though automatic watches don't need winding if you frequently wear it, you'll need to place it in a watch winder when it's not in use. While winders don't take up shelf space and are inexpensive, they are another expense you have to consider
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    Less accurate: A well crafted automatic watch can be as accurate as a mechanical one. However, it will still need to be tuned up and will lose its accuracy over time

Why Is Silver Great In Combination With Other Precious Metals And Gemstones?

By itself, silver is a soft metal. If you were to use pure silver for jewelry, it wouldn't fit you correctly, and the contents will bend due to silver's lack of durability. Because of this, silver is combined with other precious metals.

Silver Copper Earings

The main reason why this occurs is to increase the durability of the jewelry's shape. When mixing pure silver with copper, it prevents the jewelry from being easily bent or a reduction in size due to heat exposure.

Also, silver tends to tarnish quickly. This leads to jewelry makers and craftsmen adding additional metals to slow down this process. On average, silver is mixed with 7.5% of an additional metal. In fact, it can be mixed with gold, platinum, and other precious metals to achieve the same effect.

When silver is mixed with another metal, it's easier for a metal-smiths, craftsmen, and jewelers to create those interesting rings, necklaces, and pendants that we adore. Thus, mixing silver with other gemstones is necessary in order to create a beautiful finished result.

Difference Between Fine Silver And Sterling Silver

Fine silver and sterling silver are often used interchangeably. However, they don't mean the same thing. Let's see how jewellery created from pure silver is different than items made from sterling silver. We'll start by explaining both types and then noticing the factors that differentiate each other.

What Is Fine Silver?

Fine silver, also referred to as pure silver has 99.9% silver content. However, it's virtually impossible to wear as everyday jewelry because its silver contents are too soft. Because of this, fine silver has to be mixed with other metals to improve its texture.

Also, 99.9% fine silver is used to mint silver coins, ingots, or bullion bars. And, its usually traded at markets, meaning that it’s used for investment purposes. The fine silver coins, bullion bars, and rounds have been popular investment options for years.

Throughout the past following decades, they are more preferred than gold due to its increasing demand, limited resources, and lower price.

Fine Silver

Fine silver coins are valued due to their collectibility. Because of this, silver has more value because it has a complex minting process and has a limited quantity as well. Most of these silver pieces come from renowned mints.

For instance, the US Mint creates the American Silver Eagle, London Mint makes the appealing Silver Britannia, and the Royal Canadian Mint creates the 99.9% Silver Maple Leaf. Fine silver is used for antique and collectible items and is not practical to wear as jewelry.

What Is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is fine silver that's mixed with copper to make it more durable. It is an alloy because of it users 92.5% silver and 7.5% of copper, zinc or nickel. Metal experts use this percentage so that it can retain its shape.

Basically, when one adds other metals to fine silver, they are creating a sterling silver compound. The most common examples of sterling silver are found in kitchen utensils such as spoons, knives, coffee sets, forks and a multitude of others.

To summarize here are two main differences between fine silver and sterling silver:

  • Sterling silver is made out of mostly silver and a mixture of metals such as nickel, or copper which reduces its price. Usually, sterling silver is about 92.5% fine silver and uses 7.5% for other metals. Fine silver is more expensive because it consists of 99.9% silver. That's why sterling silver is used in the photography industry and is made for creating jewelry
  • Sterling silver is sensitive to water and air and can become easily tarnished if exposed to these elements for too long. However, fine silver is just like gold where because it doesn't tarnish even when exposed to air and water for extended period

Silver Tarnishing And Corrosion

All metals except for pure gold, start to corrode once they are exposed to natural elements such as air. Moisture, air pollutants, and high humidity levels are the main causes for corroded metals, especially silver.

Silver Forks Tarnishing

In the chemistry world, silver is known as a noble metal. This means that its resistant to corrosion, but not entirely. Whether fine silver or sterling silver, the metal composite will start to tarnish when it’s exposed to sulfur and air.

When silver is tarnished, it creates a combination with sulfur. This turns it into silver sulfide, which gives it a dark black appearance. You can return the silver back to is normal appearance if you remove the silver sulfide layer.

Why Silver Tarnishes And Corrodes Over Time?

Silver tarnishing is a natural process because your silver jewelry reacts with almost every material in everyday life. For example, the tarnishing process can accelerate due to placing silver near tap water (tap water consists of chlorine), hair spray, perfume, foods (ex. Salad dressing), and even wool clothing.

Since tarnishing is inevitable, you can still slow down the process. At some point, you’ll have to remove the tarnished layer from the silver to help maintain its beautiful appearance.

Storing Silver

Generally, you should place your silver jewelry in a location where its exposure to humidity and air is limited. Place your silver inside sealed bags and close them tight.

Also, you can place a silica gel inside the bag with the jewelry. The silica packs will help absorb outside humidity and slow down the tarnishing process.

Plating Silver

Alternatively, you can plate your silver to protect it from tarnishing temporarily. Most silver items that are sold today are plated to stop tarnishing. The most common metals used for this process is rhodium and pure silver.

The only downside is that the plating will wear off eventually. The more you polish and wear your silver, the faster this will occur. Once the plating is removed, you can replate your jewelry to keep it safe from tarnishing.

How To Clean Silver Jewelry?

To preserve the value and appearance of your jewelry, you need to clean it regularly. Here are some homemade methods that you can use to naturally remove tarnish from the silver and bring it back to its beautiful appearance.

Cleaning Silver Spoon

Soap And Water

You should use warm water and a phosphate-free dishwasher soap as your first line of defense if your polishing cloth is unable to remove the tarnish from your jewelry. Soap and water can be used to quickly clean the jewelry before resorting to other methods placed on this list.

Water And Baking Soda

Start by creating a paste of baking soda with water. Then, use a clean cloth with a pea-sized amount of paste and apply it to the jewelry. 

For detailed, stamped, or etched items, add more water to the paste and use a soft bristled toothbrush to get inside the cracks and crevices. Place the silver piece under warm water and dry it off using a clean cloth.

Lemon Juice And Olive Oil

Mix 1 tsp of olive oil with ½ cup of lemon juice. You'll also need a bowl to hold the solution and microfiber cloth to help remove the tarnish. Place the cloth in the solution and polish the silver. Make sure you give it time to dry out afterward.

Baking Soda And White Vinegar

Use this to remove heavy tarnish that’s stopping you from polishing your silver. Make a solution of 2 tbsp of baking soda and  ½ cup of white vinegar. Place the tarnished jewelry inside the solution for up to three hours. Once that time has been completed, rise and dry the jewelry.

Boiling Water, Baking Soda, Aluminum Foil, Salt

You can use this simple chemical reaction to remove tarnish from your silver. Fill your sink with aluminum foil with the dull side placed downwards. Put the silver pieces on top of the aluminum foil.

Next, place boiling water over the silver pieces until they are fully covered. After that place 2 tbsp of salt and baking soda. Then, stir the solution and let the baking soda dissolve - this prevents granules from scratching the metal.

Silver Necklace Cleaning

This method transfers the tarnish onto the aluminum foil. Within 5-10 minutes the tarnish will disappear from your jewelry. Use nitrile gloves to remove the jewelry from the water and use a soft cloth to dry it off.


If your silver has additional pieces of tarnish, you can reuse these techniques to bring your jewelry back to its shiny appearance.


Having jewelry isn't just a trinket, it's a long lasting accessory that can be passed down as an heirloom if treated correctly. After you buy your first silver jewelry set, make sure that you take care of it regularly so that it remains in good condition.

Also, we invite you to look at our buying guide. In it, we explain the best silver jewelry pieces that's available in 2018. Ultimately, give it a glance if you want an exquisite piece of jewelry in your possession.

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