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What is Sterling Silver?

  • person Lizl de Wet
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Why does sterling silver tarnish?

Sterling silver, a popular metal for jewelry, utensils, and many other items, is an alloy composed primarily of silver, with 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. This composition enhances the metal's durability and hardness, making it more suitable for crafting fine items that can withstand everyday use compared to pure silver which is softer and more prone to wear and tear.

However, sterling silver is known to tarnish over time, a process that leads to a dulling of the metal's natural luster and the appearance of a black or gray film on the surface. This tarnishing occurs due to a chemical reaction between the silver and sulfur-containing substances in the air, which produces silver sulfide, the dark compound responsible for the tarnished appearance. Several factors can accelerate this tarnishing process including exposure to air and moisture, which silver naturally reacts with; contact with skin, which releases oils and acids that can provoke tarnishing; and exposure to chemicals, such as chlorine, cosmetics, and household cleaners, which can exacerbate the chemical reactions leading to tarnish. Additionally, the presence of copper in sterling silver, which enhances its physical properties, also makes it more prone to tarnishing since copper reacts with atmospheric elements more readily than pure silver.

Understanding these reasons behind tarnishing is crucial for the proper care and maintenance of sterling silver items, ensuring they retain their beauty and functionality for years to come. Regular cleaning and proper storage can help minimize tarnish and protect the quality of sterling silver goods.

Did you know that the best way to keep your sterling silver jewellery sparkling is by wearing them everyday! 

The best way to store your Poppy Dots sterling silver jewellery pieces is by keeping them in the airtight plastic container that you received them in.