About Sterling Silver

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is one of the world’s most popular precious metals.  Sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of one or more other metals.  Copper is the most common metal added to silver to create the sterling alloy.  The purpose of the alloy is to harden and strengthen the silver.  Pure silver which is 99.9% is much softer than sterling silver and is not practical to wear as everyday jewelry.

Benefits to Choosing Sterling Silver

First, sterling silver jewelry is timeless.  You can keep your silver jewelry forever and not feel you have to get new pieces each season as colors and styles change. 

Second, sterling silver jewelry is hardy and strong, while still delicate enough to display the complex knots and designs with a shiny and beautiful finish.  While not as strong as stainless steel, sterling silver’s hue and shine give the air of expense while keeping to a considerate price.

Sterling silver jewelry also makes a perfect gift.  Whereas you might hesitate to give even quality costume jewelry as a gift in case it looks “cheap”, you can always be sure that the recipient will appreciate a piece in sterling silver.  It is often less expensive than the higher end costume jewelry yet it has a higher perceived value.  You are also more likely to be able to find something of universal appeal, if you are not sure of the exact tastes of the person getting the gift.

Why not choose silver plated?

There are many benefits to choosing sterling silver over silver plated.  Silver plated jewelry only has a very thin layer of silver over a base metal, sometimes even plastic.  When the available silver has tarnished and been rubbed away by cleaning and/or polishing, you are left with the dingy base components that will never shine again. 

Sterling silver has unlimited layers to work with.  If your jewelry has lost its brilliant shine, follow the instructions below to remove the tarnish and reveal the next layer of shiny silver!

What is tarnish?

Tarnish is a naturally occurring process of sterling silver.  It is the result of a chemical reaction between the metal and sulfur in the environment.  Sulfurs react with metal, physically breaking down the topmost layer of the metal in a process call “oxidation”.  Tarnish begins to appear as a golden tone, and then quickly gets darker. It is most easily removed if it is treated as soon as it becomes visible.  Once you allow the piece to become completely black, it will be much more difficult to remove the tarnish.

High temperatures and high humidity are known to speed the tarnishing process. 

Silver Saver® Anti-Tarnish Paper

To help slow down the tarnishing process, each piece purchased from Sabella Silver is wrapped in Silver Saver® Anti-Tarnish Paper.

Silver Saver® Anti-Tarnish Paper is a chemically treated, bleached kraft paper formulated to prevent tarnish on silver.  It works by absorbing hydrogen sulfide and other gases before they can react with the sterling silver and cause tarnish.  It is completely safe and non-toxic and leaves no residue. 

Caring for Your Sterling Silver Jewelry

With proper care your sterling silver jewelry will last a lifetime. 

Here are some helpful tips on how to care for and maintain your sterling silver jewelry:

Cleaning Your Sterling Silver Jewelry

The first step in cleaning silver is to be gentle. Silver can be easily scratched.

If minimal amounts of tarnish are present, clean your silver jewelry by washing it with warm water containing a few drops of a mild dish soap. Rinse the piece thoroughly with warm water and dry with a soft cotton cloth.

If your silver jewelry still looks dull after washing, we recommend using a professional jewelry polishing cloth. These clothes are treated with cleaning chemicals and have anti-tarnish properties that are excellent for bringing silver to a perfect shine. 

For heavily tarnished pieces use a small amount of a quality brand silver polish.  Carefully follow the instructions as written by the manufacturer.  We do not recommend silver dips as they contain harsh chemicals that can cause permanent damage. 

Please note:  Some of our jewelry is intentionally oxidized by the artisan to create a desirable dark patina.  Oxidized silver should only be gently cleaned with a polishing cloth, without silver cleaning solution.  For pieces containing both high-polished silver, as well as oxidized silver (usually in jewelry crevices), care must be taken to only use silver cleaners on the high-polished silver. 

When polishing or drying always use a clean, soft cotton cloth. Do not use synthetic materials such paper towels or tissues because they can scratch the silver. Rub the object in a straight, back-and-forth manner so to maintain a uniform appearance. Avoid rubbing in a circular motion.

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