Sterling Silver represents the highest quality marking to be found in silver. To qualify as Sterling Silver, it must contain a minimum of 92.5% unadulterated silver and 7.5% unadulterated copper. The main explanation as to why 7.5% copper is added to the silver is to give it more durability and strength. It should be noted that pure silver in its natural form is very soft and pliable. The added copper will make the jewelry be able to withstand everyday usage without breaking. As the concentration of the silver increases in the metal, deterioration or tarnishing diminishes.
Unlike Sterling Silver, which is the highest quality silver for jewelry making; silver plated is coated with silver. In the plated alloy, silver plated fashion accessories tend to last longer than Gold-plated accessories. Not all silver plated jewelry is the same, high quality jewelry can be electroplated with silver of at least 92.5% purity.
Caring for silver plated and/or sterling silver jewelry is no more difficult than caring for any other precious metal jewelry. I recommend you use polishing cloths such as Selvyt 100% cotton clothes for use on Swarovski crystals and gemstones and or Moonshine polishing cloth for use with gold, silver, platinum, copper or brass. Neither is abrasive and it will remove tarnish without a lot of effort. Both clothes are available for a nominal fee and kept in stock at my Atlanta studio.
1. Don't use mainstream cleaners. They are very harsh and can harm the finish on plated jewelry. Instead, we recommend cleaning plated jewelry with warm soapy water with a soft brush for hard to reach areas. Don’t forget to dry it immediately with a lint-free cloth.
2. Store your jewelry in either the same jewelry box that came with your piece or in a zip-lock bag. It should be noted that even solid gold and sterling silver jewelry can tarnish with exposure to the air. If you want to prevent this from occurring, we suggest you regularly wipe each piece down with a lint-free cloth. Also, don’t forget to store your pieces in a proper zip lock bag.
3. I also do not recommend using ultrasonic cleaners. Although these cleaners will remove dirt from hard to reach areas, they may also disturb the hand wrapped settings. Avoid those machines whenever possible and try to clean your fashion jewelry by hand.