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 so it 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. Because of the alloy, silver is durable enough for everyday wear.

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.

Vermeil Jewelry

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.”


Unfortunately silver does tarnish when exposed to oxygen, which leaves a dark, black buildup. To combat this, store silver jewelry in an airtight ziplock bag. To slow the process down, use tarnish prevention strips when storing silver jewelry.

Regular polishing will easily remove the tarnish. Silver jewelry should be taken to your local jeweler annually for cleaning and to remove tarnish. The bright reflective luster of sterling will be restored with regular polishing and cleaning.

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Jewelers of America

In 1906, Jewelers of America was founded by jewelers for jewelers, with a desire to advance the professionalism and ethics of the jewelry industry.

Today, we continue that mission and Jewelers of America Members stand as the most trustworthy, informed and professional jewelry businesses within the United States.