Silver Jewelry Buying Guide

Silver Jewelry Buying Guide

Guide to Buying Silver Jewelry

The characteristics to consider when shopping for silver jewelry

From the ancient worlds of Byzantium and Egypt 4,000 years ago, to the New World mines of Mexico and Peru during the 17th and 18th centuries, silver’s qualities have fascinated kings and conquerors throughout the ages. Today, sterling silver is a favorite metal for creative and innovative designers due to its affordability and malleability.


Silver is a naturally soft metal and is alloyed with other metals, most commonly copper, to increase its strength and durability. While sterling jewelry can tarnish or darken in color, it will never rust. And the bright reflective luster of sterling is restored with regular polishing and cleaning.

Quality Marks & Purity

In the United States, only jewelry that is at least 92.5% pure silver can be called or labeled “silver,” “sterling silver” or “sterling.” Sterling silver jewelry may also be marked with a 925, .925, 92.5 or “Ster” on the inside of the jewelry piece.

What is Vermeil?

Sterling silver jewelry is often electroplated with karat gold. When the thickness of the karat gold plating is at least 100 millionths of an inch thick, it is referred to as “vermeil,” pronounced “vermay.” Vermeil jewelry is an affordable alternative to jewelry made completely with karat gold. Items meeting this definition may be stamped with standard sterling markings or with the word “vermeil.”

Sterling Silver Care & Cleaning

How do I stop my silver from tarnishing?

Unfortunately silver does tarnish when exposed to oxygen, which leaves a dark, black buildup. To combat this, you can store silver jewelry in an airtight ziplock bag. To slow the process down, there are tarnish prevention strips you can purchase and store with your silver jewelry.

Regular polishing will easily remove the tarnish.


Jewelers of America

Last Updated on March 19, 2023 by JewelryNStyle