Silver is a fine, noble metal that can be traced back to approximately 3000 BC. Our fascination with silver has endured to this day. This is thanks to its aesthetic properties and its practical applications, which are lesser known but play an essential part in many industries. For example, did you know that silver has the highest electrical conductivity of any metal? Did you also realize that silver has antibacterial properties that can kill bacteria? So there is much more to silver than meets the eye – literally!
The universally accepted term in jewelry is the purity of the metal from which the item is made. Among the most popular and commonly encountered metals is silver. Its properties allow us to create exceptional jewelry pieces. This metal is appreciated worldwide and is also highly regarded in our country. Learn about the purity levels of silver and how to recognize them in jewelry.
Just as with gold, silver’s purity denotes silver’s content in the alloy, expressed in parts per thousand. Silver is a soft metal, so it’s mixed with other metals to achieve optimal properties.
- 925 purity, which contains 92.5% pure silver,
- 875 purity, which contains 87.5% pure silver,
- 830 purity, which contains 83.0% pure silver, and
- 800 purity, which contains 80.0% pure silver.
The hallmarks on a piece of silver provide information on the purity of the silver, who designed it, and occasionally, give you insight into when the item was made. Silver hallmarks should consist of four key elements:
- The date letter
- The town mark
- The maker’s mark
- The lion passant
Which Silver Purity is the Best?
The most commonly encountered and thus considered the best silver purity is 925, with a content of 92.5% in the alloy. It’s the highest purity used in jewelry. Silver 925 is considered the most precious, predominantly used to produce silver jewelry in Poland and worldwide.
How to Recognize Silver?
The visual appearance of jewelry is only part of it. When assessing its value, we usually focus on its composition. The first and most important thing is the hallmark or assay mark on the silver item. These small but detailed marks make them easier to identify under magnification.
The purity marking is an obligation of the jewelry manufacturer, and such information is on the jewelry tag attached to the product. Every silver item seller weighing above 5 grams must report to the Polish Assay Office, which hallmarks products following assay law.
However, how can you check if the silver is genuine if you have doubts? Online, there are many home methods to verify this. One of them is the magnet test. Does a magnet attract silver? No. It only attracts base metals. Exposing the metal to electricity won’t answer this question either. Does silver conduct electricity? Yes, like any other metal.
We recommend purchasing jewelry from reputable and trusted stores. That ensures the authenticity of the purchase. Be aware of meager prices; it might indicate that the product is merely silver-plated and, in reality, made from base metal.
Does Silver Jewelry Tarnish? Is it a Flaw?
Not. It’s a natural characteristic of this metal. Silver tarnishing is its oxidation due to exposure to sulfur oxide. The rate of tarnishing depends on the time and amount of sulfur oxide to which the product is exposed. This can come from environmental pollutants such as air, water, and sweat.
The Many Faces of Silver Jewelry
Rhodium-plated silver is silver protected with a layer of rhodium – a precious metal with a silvery, shiny hue. Not all silver items, even 925 silver, have a natural shine. Coating the surface of silver with rhodium protects it, making the silver more resistant to tarnishing and preventing dullness.
Jewelry designed to look antique is certainly oxidized silver. Worn, matte, and slightly tarnished items result from covering the product surface with silver oxide. This speeds up its tarnishing process and thus enhances its protection against corrosion.
Gold-plated silver is a popular alternative to gold jewelry. It’s a more affordable product. Finished silver items are coated with a layer of gold through electroplating. The result looks like gold, while the core is made of silver.
How to Care for Silver Jewelry?
Silver jewelry is the most common in Polish women’s jewelry boxes. We wear them for every occasion, at any age. The affordability of silver products allows us to build a considerable collection without straining the budget. Any occasion is an excellent reason to buy new jewelry. The most important reason is you — be an occasion for yourself!
For 10 years, I’ve been in the luxury publishing industry, editing magazines with a special emphasis on watches and jewellery. I bring passion and authority to my work, featuring fresh jewelry collections, interviewing renowned designers and historians, reviewing globally-acclaimed jewelry books, and keeping my audience updated on trade show happenings. I take pride in highlighting jewelers who specialize in vintage or antique pieces.