There is a large number of kinds of silver, they differ in composition and appearance. Among the varieties is sterling. This word is widely known. It is associated with a certain breakdown silver. Some people think that this alloy is intended for the production of costume jewelry. But it is a quality precious metal. However, there are also fakes. To make sense of it, you need to understand sterling. silver - what it is, what it consists of, how it differs from Chinese.
Sterling silver - what is it: assay, composition, properties, difference from ordinary silver
For centuries, people have been using sterling silver jewelry. Despite the specific name, the material belongs to the precious. And according to the characteristics, this alloy is not much inferior to the 960th hallmark metal, taking the third position in the ranking of the most valuable of the group of silver.
Many centuries ago pure silver was used, but it is not durable, easily deformed. The main advantage is the attractive appearance - the metal without impurities is characterized by a pure silver color, shiny. Gradually, the composition began to be improved to change the properties of the material. At first, germanium, platinum, zinc, titanium were added. They tried to use boron and cadmium. As a result the metal ended up in a high price range. The use of expensive additives contributed to that. But this innovation came as an unpleasant surprise for the consumer.
Later an alloy was created with the best characteristics, and today it is considered the standard among all those containing Ag. Such a metal is called "sterling silver. By comparison, no other alloy stands out in a similar way, indicating the best combination of properties and appearance. The reference metal contains 92.5% of silver and a small proportion of additives (ligatures), with copper usually used in this capacity.
Sterling is precisely the alloy of silver and copper in the ratio that produces the 925th grade metal. Other variants of metals (with a different ligature) do not have a special name, but are simply considered precious. And they, too, receive the 925 hallmark.
The presence of a ligature means that the metal will be different from the material of the highest standard - 999. It acquires slightly different properties. The main characteristics of sterling silver are:
- increased hardness;
- The threaded nature of the material allows for the creation of openwork ornaments;
- medium resistance to mechanical damage;
- bright sparkle;
- high electrical conductivity;
- the highest electrical conductivity;
- melting temperature is 802° C;
- sufficient resistance to oxidation.
In addition, the metal is less magnetic than an alloy with a higher content of ligatures.
Today, sterling silver is widely used in the production of jewelry, household and cutlery due to the properties that come from determining the ideal proportions of the precious metal and additives:
- due to the addition of copper, the metal is oxidized, which distinguishes it from pure Ag; the reaction is most intense when sterling silver and hydrogen sulfide are combined;
- susceptible to acids (may dissolve in contact with nitric, sulfuric acid), mercury;
- reacts to iodine;
- As the temperature rises, oxygen, hydrogen is absorbed.
Where did the name come from
The name sterling silver appeared in the XII century, it has different meanings and several versions of origin. And it is not known exactly which of the versions is closer to the truth. Considering that the assumptions appeared at about the same time in different territories, it is quite possible that they have a basis. This means that the name "sterling" could have originated in different countries at the same time.
According to one version, this definition of silver came from the folk name of the Norman penny - steorling. This is an Old English word, it came to be used because of the design of the coin - it had stars on it.
English History. Branding
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the name "sterling" appeared in the 12th century. At that time silver alloy was used for minting money. One weight measure of the precious metal yielded exactly 240 coins. Because of this feature, it was possible to use pounds of sterling (English silver) to test the quality of the metal. There was no need to use a branding machine. If the weight and size deviated, fraud was presumed. Sterling silver has since been used for other purposes, but the name came from an ancient English coin.
The other version, authored by Walter de Pinchbeck, is more trustworthy and therefore more widespread. According to it, sterling silver got its name thanks to the area where this alloy was used. This was the eastern region of Germany. The region of five towns was called Esterling. This version also answers the question of what is sterling sterling silver. It is difficult to get more reliable information, since it has already been lost, so we are left to speculate.
Sterling Silver Technology
It is possible to obtain an alloy of uniform consistency by heating the metal to 893.4°C. Thanks to this the additives are distributed over the whole mass of silver. And the ligature is completely dissolved in it, which improves the properties of the finished material. Additionally the metal is subjected to annealing and then to hardening. To increase the strength, its base is heated, but already up to 300 ° C, and then bleached. This is necessary because of the formation of slag. The result is a hard white alloy. Due to the copper content, it may darken over time, but the products can really be distinguished from fakes, using two methods:
- You need to leave the precious jewelry and costume jewelry next to each other, do a simple manipulation to remove dirt: sterling silver will be cleaned from darkening, which allows you to bring back its white color, bright luster, fake will be inferior to the product in appearance, its original color will not change;
- When a piece will acquire a red tint over time, it will mean that there is too much copper in the alloy, which means that the proportions corresponding to the standard have not been maintained, sterling silver is not that, it is a low-grade alloy with a lower Ag content.
Sterling variety: advantages and disadvantages
Sterling silver has many advantages:
- the ability to retain shape;
- non-oxidation (the metal darkens like other alloys, but not as quickly);
- attractiveness, which is due to the technology of production - the metal is white and shiny;
- Plasticity allows you to create products of different shapes;
- Low risk of blackening of the skin when wearing sterling silver;
- bactericidal properties.
If compared with other types of silver (higher and lower grade), the disadvantages are branded items 925 is practically non-existent, which is why these proportions of the alloy are considered the reference. However, there are still peculiarities that show up during use that can deteriorate the appearance of the jewelry:
- metal darkens when stored in the sun;
- sterling silver loses its appeal after contact with chlorine, ammonia;
- Metal does not tolerate moisture, sweat, it must be cleaned regularly, though not as often as others.
Most often, jewelry is made precisely from the alloy 925. Metal containing a smaller amount of silver (72-87.5%) is of lower quality. On the other hand are high-grade metals (960 hallmark), they have low hardness, but do not darken. But because the alloy does not manifest resistance to mechanical stress, it is less used for the manufacture of jewelry. Articles of sterling silver 925 are distinguished by sophistication, durability, and shine. This metal is most often used by famous jewelry houses (Tiffany, Cartier, etc.).
Sterling for crockery and household items
Due to the sufficiently high Ag content, the alloy withstands mechanical stresses well. This can mean that finished products can be used frequently for a variety of purposes. Metal with less silver (916, 875) or high-grade material (960, 999) will not do. This is explained by the fact that the dishes are constantly exposed to corrosive substances. This peculiarity of sterling is the main difference from other kinds of silver.
Coating for sterling
Given that the reference metal (925) also gradually darkens due to the content of the ligature, items are often coated with a protective layer. Rhodium is used for this purpose. Rhodium is a precious metal, but it is sufficiently expensive. Its use leads to an increase in the price of the jewelry, so it is necessary to decide which is more important: to buy a piece at a more suitable price without a coating, or to buy a piece that is protected against darkening. In addition, the protective layer increases the hardness of the metal. Products last much longer.
Where to buy and sell sterling silver - price per gram today
Sterling silver is the highest quality alloy among those used in jewelry, cutlery, and other items. It is unlikely to be cheap, due to the substantial content of the precious metal. You should look for them in jewelry stores. Another option is the pawnshops. The price per gram is constantly changing, and depends on many factors:
|Marketplace||Price per gram, rubles.|
|Jewelry stores||40 and up|
Sterling 925 sterling silver from China - what is it, fakes from Aliexpress
Theoretically, sterling silver should necessarily be produced according to standards. But in practice it turns out that there is a difference between Chinese and ordinary precious metal (Russian or European). And it is not in the shape or size of items, but in composition and characteristics. As a result, sterling silver 925 from Aliexpress may not be what you expected. This is due to the reasons:
- When a stamp is placed, it does not always correspond to reality, because no one controls the quality of the metal;
- The silvered metal is different from the precious alloy by the designation, sometimes you can see the inscription: Silver plated, sterling silver plated or silver on copper, but some sellers from China exclude the word plated, the result remains silver, which is misleading.
Top 5 ways to spot a fake
It happens that when buying in an online store, there are doubts about the authenticity of the jewelry. There are various ways to be sure of its quality, but only when you receive it:
- make a notch on the back of the product, a fake is easy to identify - the base metal under the coating is slightly darker;
- Take it to a jeweler for evaluation, in which case you can find out for sure what the real price of the product is;
- Cost is an indirect factor that you should also pay attention to, for example, too low or high a price is a sign of a fake;
- you can clean the product: real silver will lighten, a shine will appear, but if you are holding a fake, it will remain the same color, it may get a non-standard shade if the metal will be in contact with the reagent;
- Evaluate the external qualities: silver is shiny, has a noble hue, and is quite heavy due to its medium density (for comparison, Ag weighs more than most metals used to make jewelry).
Rules for the safe purchase and sale of sterling
In the store, before buying, there is no way to check the jewelry by improvised means (making a scratch, applying reagent, you need to navigate by circumstantial signs). Accordingly, they usually evaluate the color, sound, and weight of the item. Additionally, attention is paid to other factors, such as the seller's credibility and the characteristics of the brand.
Reputation of the seller and the jewelry chain
Some brands are known to most people. Such products are of high quality, but they are quite expensive. Certificates for the goods are provided upon request, and there are usually no problems with the conformity of the type of products to the stated characteristics. The seller values his reputation, which means that he offers only genuine jewelry.
According to the Government Decree № 55, jewelry is not subject to return and exchange, so you should choose these items carefully.
Studying the stigma
Usually the hallmark is placed on the back side (on watches, rings). In the case of earrings or chains stigma should be looked for on the clasp. When enlarged, the hallmark should have correct outlines, even sides, and clear symbols. The same designation is used to mark silver and gold - a woman's head in a kokoshnik, but the numerical marking of the hallmark is different. In addition, the shape of the stamp itself is also different - barrel-shaped.
The hallmark is not always put, and it happens that imported jewelry pieces do not have it, but it does not mean that the piece is fake. In such cases, you should consult a jeweler to determine the composition of the metal.
Cost per gram of sterling silver
You can buy sterling silver at different prices. It depends on where exactly you plan to buy it. The determining factor is the price from the Central Bank:
|The price of the metal 999 tests (Central Bank of Russia), rub.||Market value, rubles.||Price for scrap, rub.|
Sterling silver price (CB) * 0.925 = sterling silver price
Change precious metal value - endless process. If you need to buy jewelry as cheaply as possible, you should watch the dynamics of prices. Quotes at different times made up:
Antique silver appraisal
In order to determine the value of the product, it is necessary to turn to proven specialists. There are organizations where the evaluation and buying up of silver, including antiques 925, as well as products with a similar composition, but without identifying features. With such a purpose accept only some products:
- household items, interiors;
- cult objects.
Factors are taken into account in the evaluation:
- metal composition, sample;
- artistic value;
- the time interval when the product was produced;
- performance technique;
- size and weight.
How to properly wear and store sterling silver
When silver jewelry is not used properly, it turns black. There are some simple rules to follow to increase their lifespan:
- Keep the jewelry in a dark place;
- use a box or pouch;
- Do not keep silver next to other items, especially if they are of a different metal;
- Before taking a shower/bath, jewelry should be removed;
- do not play sports or do physical work if wearing a necklace, bracelet or other silverware.
Top 5 popular ways to clean and polish silver at home
Dark plaque appears even if the rules for using such items are followed, but it does not happen as quickly. Methods can be used to remove dirt and to polish silverware. Examples of remedies and recipes:
- boiling with foil and baking soda: 2 tbsp of powder per 500 ml, put aluminum coating in the pot, when the liquid boils, add baking soda, and then - decorations, after 2 minutes they should be taken out, rinse;
- toothpaste (gel, baby) - used for polishing with a lint-free rag;
- Soap solution: the amount of ingredients is arbitrary, you need to achieve the appearance of foam, drop items into the solution, wipe soiled areas with a rag;
- GOI paste: apply a small amount of the substance, polish, it is important to choose the right product, because GOI is represented by 4 types, among them there is a variant with large particles (to eliminate serious defects) and smaller (for polishing);
- Special preparations for cleaning silver - available on the market.
When it's better to go to a jeweler
It is not always advisable to do the cleaning yourself. You could cause the condition of the jewelry to deteriorate. Cases when you should contact a jeweler:
- severe damage appeared;
- the item is plated (rhodium, gold-plated, etc.), not all methods will work;
- It is not possible to restore the attractiveness of the ornament by your own efforts.
Video: What is sterling silver. An overview of jewelry
925 sterling silver from China: reviews
I ordered jewelry from Aliexpress, the specifications said "sterling", the price was nice. Everything looked like it was actually non-precious metal. I didn't believe in such a generous offer at first, but the reviews convinced me. I ordered a couple of rings, they came to Ukraine rather quickly. Already on the spot I was estimating whether the jewelry was precious or not. Weight-wise it is heavy, and looks great too. No complaints so far.
I ordered a lot from Chinese sites. The goods are always different, I used to get things from the "expectation-reality" category. I also took silver, of course, luck did not work here. Chinese sterling was faked, but that was my own fault, you have to take such things in a store, personally inspect them, check certificates, because silver and gold, like medicine, can not be returned. And, most interestingly, the price was not so low for those "jewelry," a little pity for the money.
More than once I met Chinese sterling: in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladivostok. The appearance is always different, I guess there are fakes. I do not buy jewelry in small stores, my choice is only a big chain of well-known brands. If I doubt the authenticity, I can ask for a certificate.