Sterling silver is a common jewelry material. Brands of different scale sell sterling silver jewelries, like silver chain, silver bracelet, vintage style accessories and trendy jewelries.
The demerits of sterling silver being jewelry material
1. Sterling silver (S925) will oxidize and turn dark
Sterling silver will oxidize and turn dark after being exposed to air. Even though it is protected by an electroplated layer (the common plating would be white gold plating), the plating would still fall off as time passes. Electroplated layer cannot block off the contact between silver and air completely, and the speed of sterling silver oxidizing can be faster that of the plating falling off. The plating of sterling silver will usually become useless within 6 to 12 months, and would have most likely turned dark due to oxidization. Jewelry metals turning dark would not only affect the shininess of the gem, but also making others think that the jewelries are fake or valueless.
2. Sterling silver (S925) is too soft
Silver only has a Mohs hardness of 2.5 (which is similar to that of human fingernails). For silver to withstand the pressure from repeated forging, jewelry makers need to add 7.5% alloy to 92.5% silver. This is where the international standard of 925 silver (S925) comes from.
Sterling silver being too soft means gems cannot be mounted on it securely. Even after adding in alloy, silverware would still only have the hardness of around 3 to 3.5, of which its shape can still be altered with bare hands. The metal could be deformed or the gem could fall off when it is against heavy impact. As a result, silver would not be used on the high class jewelries and is only suitable for jewelries containing pure metal, semi-precious gemstone or crystal.
3. Silver jewelry (S925) has low value
Sterling silver cost much less than gold. Gold (including white gold) is the most known, most circulated in market and most value maintaining precious metal. Almost everyone knows the value of gold. Since ancient time, having gold ware is the symbol of one’s status. Some wealthy families would buy gold ware as accessories or heirloom. This shows how gold could pass down value since the past.
Sterling silver costs only one-hundredth of gold, and silverware cannot last long due to issues like oxidization. Also, the price of silverware could vary a lot on the market, where it could cost from tens to thousand dollars. Factors like quality and profit should also be considered.
Therefore, sterling silver would not be used for most high-end jewelries, but would usually be used for cheaper products like cubic zirconia and crystal.
Jewelry material could affect one’s perception towards the jewelry’s value. Diamond and gemstone would mostly be used on gold (18K) or platinum (PT950) jewelries, instead of sterling silver jewelries.