What metals are used?
I use a variety of metals in my jewellery designs:
- Pure Silver, also known as Fine Silver, 99.99% Silver with an allowance for trace elements
- 925 Sterling Silver, 92.5% pure Silver + 7.5% other metals, usually copper
- Silver Plated, 925 Sterling Silver plated/coated onto a base metal core, which can be brass, copper, pewter, iron, zinc alloys, tin, alloys
- 9ct Gold Plated on to 925 Sterling Silver core, also know as Gold Vermeil. I use 9ct Yellow Gold and 9ct Rose Gold Vermeil in some of my designs and also offer optional replacement ear-wires
- Titanium and Niobium optional replacement ear-wires, which are extremely low-allergenic pure medical grade metals
- Tibetan Silver refers to a variety of white non-precious metal alloys used primarily in cast jewellery components, with an appearance similar to aged silver. 'Tibetan Silver' includes copper-tin alloys; zinc alloys; and other alloy compositions, as well as base metals with a Silver plating. It is also known as Nepalese silver, white metal, lead-free pewter or tin alloy.
- I also offer a range of other metals such as Bronze, pure Copper, pure Aluminium, Stainless Steel and lead free Pewter in either solid or plated varieties.
What is 925 Sterling Silver made of?
- 925 Sterling Silver is an alloy of Pure Silver (also known as Fine Silver) and other metals.
- It contains 92.5% by weight of Pure Silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper.
- The 925 number that you often see refers to 925 parts of Pure Silver per 1000.
How do you keep 925 Sterling Silver (and Silver Plate) from tarnishing?
925 Sterling Silver or Silver Plate (925 Sterling Silver plated/coated onto a base metal, which can be brass, copper, tin, pewter or zinc) will almost always have some Copper mixed with it which may react with some chemicals* or salt water. Oxidation is not a fault with the jewellery, it just what happens naturally over time because of its interaction with Oxygen.
*chemicals can include household cleaning products, some foods (Lemons, vinegar), make-up, perfume or other toiletries.
Why Does Some Silver Turn green?
Copper oxidation occurs as a result of its exposure to air, though water and heat can speed this process up (salt water and acidic compounds can also induce corrosion). Oxidation adds a Verdigris colour (blue-green) to Copper or Copper alloys like brass or bronze, a Verdigris finish can often be deliberately added to jewellery to add shadows/low lights and bring out texture or to give an antiqued/aged look.
Why Does Some Silver Turn Black?
Sometimes Silver also becomes black, this is because of hydrogen sulphide (sulphur), a substance that occurs in the air and is also produced by some foods (eggs, onions, broccoli). When silver comes into contact with it, a chemical reaction takes place and a black layer is formed. Silver oxidizes faster in places with a lot of light and high humidity. Sometimes Silver jewellery is deliberately blackened/oxidised to add texture and to give it an aged look.
925 Sterling Silver (and plate care)Care
Fresh/tap water itself does not cause damage to 925 Sterling Silver. In fact, I recommend gently washing the jewellery with gentle liquid hand soap and water to keep the jewellery clean hygienic and help restore lustre. When your Silver jewellery is placed in the water for a short time, then dried with a soft lint free/microfibre cloth it will not cause any damage. Water is not the chief culprit in Sterling Silver damage, the real culprit causing damage are chemicals or salt in the water.
Why shouldn’t you wear 925 Sterling Silver jewellery to swim/shower or bathe? (also applies to Silver plated or other plated costume jewellery)
Although pure/fresh water generally does not damage Sterling Silver, it does make the Silver oxidise/darken/tarnish more quickly. Silver jewellery looks good with your beachwear, but don't go into the water whilst wearing it. In some cases, the Silver may be damaged when exposed to sea or pool water. Cold water can shrink your fingers and can make your rings slip off easily. When swimming, there is not only the risk of losing valuable jewellery, but also the salt water can damage and sand can scratch the jewellery. Seawater is corrosive and leaves residues that needs to be removed.
The water in swimming pools contains varying concentrations of Chlorine. In the summer, you can enjoy a lot of time in the swimming pool, but don't wear 925 Sterling Silver or plated jewellery if you want to keep your jewellery in pristine condition. Another place where chlorine is found and usually in higher concentrations is in hot tubs/Jacuzzi's. Chlorine not only makes the Silver tarnish, but the heat of the water also makes it tarnish quicker, this damage may be irreversible.
If your Sterling Silver jewellery accidentally touches sea or pool water, don't despair. Wash the jewellery with a mild soap and fresh water as soon as possible, then dry thoroughly. If you have not waited too long and can clean it quickly, you may avoid irreversible damage to your jewellery.
Hypo-allergenic Niobium and Titanium
- Niobium and Titanium are physiologically inert and thus hypo-allergenic. For this reason, Niobium and Titanium are found in many internal medical devices (such as pacemakers or plates and screws).
- Niobium and Titanium can be electrically heated and "anodized", resulting in a wide array of pretty rainbow, gold and bronze colours using a process known as "reactive metal anodizing" which is very useful in making jewellery, both are dull silvery grey in their natural form.
- Anodising creates a thin oxide layer (also known as "rust") which is just as bio-compatible/hypo-allergenic as the plain polished metal. There are no other materials added and there is no plating, painting or coating.
- It is possible to scratch (with difficulty) the coloured oxide layer off the anodised versions, but even if that were to happen the metal underneath is still pure Niobium or Titanium. There is no possibility of it flaking or creating shards or splinters.
- The ear-wires I offer are made from solid/pure Niobium or Titanium wire with no other metals added. Niobium or Titanium are excellent choice for anyone with delicate skin, especially for those sensitive to copper or nickel, or other metals added to make 925 Sterling Silver or 9/18ct Gold alloys or plating.
- The name "Niobium" comes from Greek Mythology: Niobe, is the daughter of Tantalus.
- The name “Titanium” originates from Greek Mythology, named after the sons of the Earth Goddess, known as the 'Titans'. It wasn't always called Titanium. Originally, it was known as "Gregorite"—named after the Reverend William Gregor who discovered it in 1791.
Historically 'Tibetan Silver' did contain pure Silver, and some old items may be predominantly Silver. Zangyin is a Chinese term for 'Tibetan silver' - it seems to originate from a scholar's term for the inferior silver adulterated with high proportion of copper used for Tibetan coinage in the late Qing Dynasty period.
In modern usage refers to a variety of white non-precious metal alloys used primarily in jewellery components, with an appearance similar to aged silver. 'Tibetan Silver' includes copper-tin alloys; zinc alloys; and other alloy compositions, as well as base metals such as iron plated with a Sterling Silver alloy. An X-ray analysis showed that six of seven items acquired online and described as 'Tibetan silver' were alloys containing primarily copper, zinc.
Sometimes comparable metallurgical compositions have been called Nepalese silver, white metal, lead-free pewter, base metal or simply tin alloy.
Tibetan Silver can occasionally contain Nickel or Lead (usually found in old Pewter), which can be a problem with people with sensitivities or toxicity worries. I will always ensure to the best of my ability that my Tibetan Silver is Lead and Nickel free by buying from reliable sources.
Tibetan Silver is generally used for charms and beads or anything that is cast, it is not suitable to make wire or anything thin gauged, therefore is not used for ear-wires and chains due to it lack of tensile strength.
Tibetan Silver can tarnish like any other metal be-it Sterling Silver, base metals or plated alloys. As a general rule don't get it wet, if you do, dry and polish with a soft cloth. If it goes dull or tarnished, a gentle polish with a non-abrasive Silver cloth will bring it's lustre back.