Belton, Missouri (PressExposure) August 01, 2013 -- Much of the fine jewelry that is made from sterling silver is not 100 percent pure silver. In its purest form not mixed with any other element, silver is far too soft for jewelers to manipulate into the ring, necklace and bracelet designs that are commonly sold in retail outlets. By the time pure silver reaches most buyers, it is 925 sterling silver, which means it is mixed with 7.5 percent metal alloy, usually copper. Mixing silver with another metal also helps to prevent fast oxidation, which makes silver tarnish and turn brown.
Buyers should be careful to know the difference between a ring that is pure silver and one that is silver plated. Some sterling silver jewelry sold as fine jewelry is really nickel or brass that has undergone an electroplating process to add a very thin coat of silver as a top layer. It is unethical for a retailer to sell plated jewelry as authentic silver, though some use the practice to earn a profit at an unfair advantage. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission prohibits jewelry, silverware or other items from being sold as silver unless it is 92.5 percent pure silver.
Buyers should also be skeptical about buying German silver, which is a grayish looking metal alloy and not silver at all. Sometimes, jewelers use it as a base for electroplating because it resembles silver so much. It is often passed off as fine jewelry and called Alpaca silver or nickel silver.
Silver jewelry can bring years of enjoyment if it is ethically designed and receives the right care. Jewelry salespeople have a moral obligation to be honest about the silver content, but the buyer also has an obligation to know the difference between true silver and plated jewelry. In an honest sale, the buyer walks out with %PR_LINK2% that he can enjoy for a lifetime.
Caring for Silver
Some of the oxidation that happens when silver reacts to moisture is unpreventable. The easiest way to clean silver that has started to tarnish is to place a teaspoon of baking soda in boiling water. Place the silver in a separate container and place a small piece of aluminum foil in the container with the jewelry. Pour the boiling water mixture over the jewelry and the baking soda will be activated when it comes in contact with the aluminum. The tarnish will bind with the aluminum to polish and clean the silver.
It is also possible to buy tarnish prevention bags to store silver silver or a tarnish prevention cloth to wrap it. This slows down the oxidation process but also prevents silver from bumping or scraping against other objects that might scratch or dent it. Sterling silver jewelry is made tougher by mixing it with other metals, but it can still be vulnerable if not cared for properly.
A third way to care for sterling silver jewelry is to take it to a local jeweler for an ultrasonic cleaning. The jewelry is placed in a small basket and submerged in a cleaning solution. Then once the machine is switched on, sound waves create tiny vacuum bubbles that collapse and give off heat and pressure to remove tarnish and dirt.