What is Sterling Silver and .925 Sterling Silver?
Because pure silver is much too soft to be used in jewelry, it is often combined with other metals to create a more durable metal. When 92.5% of pure silver is mixed with 7.5% of other metals (often copper, nickel or zinc) the resulting alloy is called sterling silver. To identify it as such, the number 925 is stamped upon the silver, often in a hidden part of the jewelry. This number is known as the hallmark and denotes the percentage of silver purity in the alloy. In other words, 925 is the same as sterling silver, meaning that if there is any other stamp on the metal, it is not sterling silver. Alternately, the hallmarks STER, STG, SS and Sterling Silver may be stamped in place of 925. (source: Jewelry Shopping Guide)
The saying "prevention is better than cure" is also applicable when it comes to sterling silver - preventive care is always better than aftercare!"
It is best to remove the jewelry during these activities:
- Household chores eg. washing dishes, laundry ie. when dealing with cleaning supplies
- Prepping, cooking, or eating foods that contain sulfur (this includes eggs and mayonnaise)
- When putting on lotion, makeup, hair products etc.
- Swimming, hot tubs, or saunas
- Very hot places (such as when lying out at the beach or pool, gardening
- Use a non-abrasive cloth to avoid scratching.
- Move to a new section of the cloth regularly.
- Avoid areas that are intentionally oxidized as part of the design.
- Follow the grain of the silver - do NOT rub in a circular pattern!
- Soap and water: Warm water and a mild, ammonia-free and phosphate-free dishwashing soap should be your first line of defense if the polishing cloth fails to remove tarnish. Soap and water should also be used to clean your pieces before using any of the methods listed below.
- Baking soda and water: Make a paste of baking soda and water and use a clean cloth to apply a pea-sized amount to the silver and polish. For etched, stamped or detailed items, thin the paste with more water and use a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush to get the cracks and crevices. Run the silver piece or pieces under running warm water, and dry with a clean cloth.
- Olive oil and lemon juice: Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 tsp. olive oil in a bowl large enough to hold the cleaning solution and a small microfiber cloth. Dip the cloth in the solution and wring it out so that it doesn’t drip, then polish the silver, rinse, and dry.
- White vinegar and baking soda: Use this gentle cleaner to remove heavy tarnish that’s preventing you from polishing your silver. Soak the tarnished piece in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp. baking soda (be prepared for the fizzing!) for two to three hours, then rinse and dry.