Silver jewellery remains very popular, silver is a cool-toned metal and is seen as sharper and more modern and designers like it for its minimalistic approach as well as its vintage feel on more traditional designs. It also is quite affordable when compared with gold and other metals which are increasingly more costly.
However there is more to silver than one would imagine, as there is a choice of finishes and different colours that silver can be treated to give different effects, i.e. bright, naturally tarnished, controlled oxidization and vermeil.
Sterling silver will tarnish and it is up to you whether you polish it to keep it bright and shiny or let it tarnish naturally (and usually unevenly). Sterling silver tarnishes because of the 7.5% copper part of the alloy, which also strengthens it as 'all' silver (fine silver) is softer. Fine silver takes longer to tarnish and might be something to look out for if you prefer less work as long as it is treated gently it will be fine for necklaces and earrings but not heavy duty jewellery such as rings and bracelets.
The new argentium silver is clever as it is heavily tarnish resistant - it might need a polish on occasion but generally speaking the addition of germanium into the alloy means that the germanium gives it a tarnish resistant quality. So argentium silver is extremely useful to place next to items which cannot be cleaned easily as they may be too small, or get damaged with a silver dip - i.e. pearls and porous gemstones like turquoise
etc and for anyone who leads a busy lifestyle this new type of silver is going to be very popular.
Sterling silver can be deliberately oxidized to darken - this can range from a darker pewter coloured silver to a deep matt black colour and this sort of effect is a nice change from the bight shiny silver. This effect happens in the presence of an oxidizing agent and the longer the item is left in the chemical bath the darker it becomes. These items should not be rubbed. Many items these days are mixing bright and oxidized silver together and also with gold to make mixed metal jewellery which is totally stunning.
Ah so what if you like the colour of gold as much as silver? Well look for vermeil jewellery. This has a 22 or 24 carat gold plated on to sterling silver. This is electro-plated but a thicker coating than ordinary gold plating. Vermeil is a very useful addition to your jewellery wardrobe in terms of price. Do not rub vermeil hard though like any plating it can rub off but it is fine to spruce up vermeil in a silver dip from time to time.
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