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Gothic Jewelry Sterling Silver 101: The comprehensive guide to understanding and maintaining your jewelry and silver cutlery.


     
 

What is Sterling Silver

Fine silver (99.9% pure) like most precious metals, is easily bent and deformed and unsuitable in the manufacture of jewelry & other accessories. Earrings, rings, dogtags and other types of silver jewelry cannot effectively be manufactured from pure silver in the absence of alloy metal additives to strengthen its atomic structure. To employ silver as a viable metal, it is alloyed with copper to increase its hardness. Due to the close natural resemblance between both metals, the alloy process can be carried out without substantially affecting the stretchability and beauty of the silver. However, as the degree of purity of silver decreases within the alloy, the sticky problem of corrosion arises, giving rise to the importance of finding a suitable equilibrium balance between the percentage content of Silver and the cheaper metal (whether Aluminum, Copper, Steel or Brass) used in the alloy couple.


The optimal solution, as discovered by expert chemists, is sterling silver: an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually Copper, Steel or Brass. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925 (ie: 92.5% purity). Since the percentage purity of sterling silver is stringently maintained, sterling silver is commonly used in the manufacture of expensive luxury jewelry and high grade luxury cutlery used by highly affluent and successful individuals.


Chemically, silver is not very reactive-it does not react on a visible scale with oxygen or water at ordinary conditions of temperature, and so does not easily form the ugly silver oxide layer which appears as a dull, powdery white coating on the surface of pure silver. However, sterling silver is not a compound, and other metals in the alloy, usually copper, may react with oxygen in the air, tarnishing the overall appearance of the sterling silver alloy. The saving grace of sterling silver however, however, is that tarnish is easily reversible by polishing: a process which chemically dissolves and removes the exterior coat of CuO obscuring the brilliant sheen of the underlying alloy. The convenient reversibility of the tarnish has resulting in 925 sterling silver becoming the industrial benchmark of consumer choice in jewelry craftsmanship.

Sterling Silver's beauty increases with use, which causes a patina layer to form. Plated silver is silver that has been electroplated over another metal. Corrosion occurs more quickly in damp and foggy weather, but is inevitable in any climate. Store in treated paper or cloth, or plastic film.



How Silver is cleaned should be determined firstly by the value placed on it, whether monetary or sentimental, & secondly, the depth of detail carved into the silver. Silver with deeply engraved designs that are enhanced by an oxide or French gray finish are most suitably and ideally hand-polished with a commercial grade silver cream or polish.

Hand rubbing develops what is commonly known as patina on silver which adds to its beauty. Ornamental silver pieces that are lacquered must be washed in lukewarm water rather than hot water, as hot water could potentially cause damage or erosion of the lacquer. Polishing silver while wearing rubber gloves promotes tarnish. Don't do it! Instead, choose plastic or cotton gloves.

Silver has enemies. Rubber is one material which can cause severe corrosion to silver. The damage can become so deeply etched that only a silversmith would be able to repair the damage, albeit with a severe wasteful loss of silver mass. Raised designs are beyond help, and will be lost permanently. Avoid using storage cabinets with rubber seals, rubber floor coverings, rubber bands, etc

Other cardinal enemies of silver include table salt, olives, salad dressing, eggs, vinegar and fruit juices. Essentially anything which contains food acids. If you treasure your cutlery, serve these foods in china or glass containers rather than your precious silver tableware. Although flowers and fruit really do look lovely in silverware, the natural acids produced as they decay can etch the containers and cause serious damage. If you really want to use silver containers, use plastic liners.

Baking Soda and Toothpaste: With toothpaste, smear the silver layer with toothpaste, then run it under lukewarm water, work it into a foam, then rinse it off. For heavy stains or intricate grooves unreachable by hand, use an old soft-bristled toothbrush.

For Baking Soda, apply a paste of baking soda and water. Rub, rinse off, and polish dry with a soft cloth preferably cotton. To remove tarnish from silverware, place some grains of baking soda on a damp cloth and rub it on the silverware until rust disappears. Rinse and dry well.

The author is a New York-based veteran jewelry craftsman with a full decade of craftsmanship experience and a legacy of strong customer satisfaction. He is an expert on both jewelry craft and fashion critique. To learn more about sterling silver jewelry, replicas, inspired alternatives and other challenges facing mainstream labels, visit Gothic Silver Jewelry

 
     
     
 
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Gothicbuzz.com is a website for all Gothic Jewelry fans and enthusiasts, or simply for anyone who loves Branded Jewelry but do not want to pay the extremely high prices for the original Chrome Jewelry. Our designs include the famous Gothic Heart Styled Rings, Gothic Heart Styled Skulls, Chrome styled Swords, Gothic Hearts style Necklaces, Gothic style Bracelets, Gothic style Pendents, Gothic Rings, Chrome Gothic style Money Clips and many other Chrome Gothic styled Accessories.

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