As some of you may know, my original degree was in metallurgical engineering – the use of metals in construction and other applications. So I am probably more interested in the behavior of metal than the average jewelry designer. But there are some things that the average consumer should know too.
Here’s a bit about silver. Both sterling and fine silver are quality materials, with trade-offs.
Traditional sterling silver is an alloy made from 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. The copper adds a bit of hardness to the alloy, but also causes tarnish.
Fine silver is pretty darn close to pure silver – 99.9% silver. No copper, no tarnish! Well, strictly speaking, fine silver will eventually tarnish, but very sloooowly! If used judiciously, fine silver is a wonderful material for jewelry. Notice, I use sterling silver wires with my earrings – fine silver wire in the gauge needed for ear wires would be too soft to stand up to constant use. On the other hand, fine silver is perfect for the main earring component and other jewelry applications.
A beautiful design is great – but if you want your jewelry to last, also be mindful of what it is made from.