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Silver is a very popular metal to use in jewellery. Not quite as expensive as gold, yet it offers an attractive appearance. Historically, it was considered to be the alternative to gold for quite a while, and even nowadays it remains a common choice.


While Silver looks considerably different to gold, it does share some of its properties. Its a soft metal, which means it is difficult to work with unless alloyed with other metals to increase its hardness. Silver is most commonly paired with copper in alloys, as copper allows the silver to retain its brilliant sheen. Copper is not the only choice, though, as zinc has also been used with considerable success in silver alloys.

When it comes to jewellery, specifically gem setting, silver is not quite as good as gold. Setting a gemstone in a silver piece is still very much an option – but it does not hold the gemstone quite as securely as gold does.


Just like gold, silver can also be used in different standards. Most commonly, Sterling Silver is used to create jewellery now. This is a 92.5% silver alloy, meaning it contains at least 92.5% silver – with the remaining 7.5% usually made up by copper. In order to be considered as Silver, jewellery made of the metal needs to be at least 80% silver – this is considered the minimum standard for jewellery worldwide. Another commonly standard is Britannia Silver – a silver alloy used by the Royal Mint for its silver coins. This particular alloy is 95.84% silver.

Silver tarnish

Unfortunately, unlike gold, silver alloys tarnish when they come in contact with the sulphur in the air. This is usually caused by the presence of copper in the alloy. Don’t worry though, while tarnish is a common issue it’s also rather easy to solve. It can be dealt with in a couple of ways, too.

One way is to protect the silver by a protective layer of rhodium, platinum, or palladium plating. This prevents the silver alloy from coming in contact with the air. While this retains the silver’s brilliant look, it has one downside: eventually, the plating wears off and the silver is left vulnerable again.

Another option is to replace the copper in the alloy with another metal, such as platinum, palladium, zinc, and other choices. This is a good way to avoid tarnish, but the downside is that the resulting alloy is softer than the combination of silver and copper.

A more simple approach is to store your jewellery in an anti-tarnish bag – this prevents sulphur from causing the silver alloy to tarnish. This helps it retain its original appearance for longer, though it does not stop it completely.

Fortunately, tarnish can be removed even if it has already appeared. One method is to remove the tarnish mechanically by buffing the item. This is a relatively simple way to get rid of tarnish, but it does remove some of the silver.

There is also a chemical method: by using an appropriate chemical solution, the tarnishing process can be reversed. The advantage of this method is that no silver is removed from the jewellery, so it returns to its pristine appearance. There are quite a few silver jewellery care products available on the market, and you can find our selection of Jewellery Care Products on our sister site JAREEYA.

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