WHAT IS STERLING SILVER?
Pure silver is usually too soft for jewellery making so it is alloyed with other metals to improve its durability. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. Copper gives the silver strength whilst preserving the ductility and appearance of the precious metal. A UK hallmark is your assurance of an item’s 92.5 sterling silver credentials.
WHAT IS A HALLMARK?
A hallmark comprises a series of marks applied to an article of precious metal to prove it has been independently tested. This guarantees that the item conforms to legal standards of purity. A complete hallmark consists of three compulsory punch (or laser) marks:
- Sponsor’s Mark (Templetree Silver’s comprises my initials AT inside two circles)
- Sterling Silver Fineness Mark (92.5% pure silver)
- Assay Office Mark (Edinburgh, the Castle)
ARE ITEMS EVER EXEMPT FROM HALLMARKING?
Under the UK Hallmarking Act of 1973, silver items weighing less than 7.78 grams do not require a full UK hallmark. All the jewellery on this website weighing more than 7.78g has been hallmarked by the Edinburgh Assay Office in keeping with the UK Hallmarking Act and the more delicate designs below the 7.78g threshold are stamped with the 92.5 mark in their country of origin.
HOW DO I CARE FOR MY SILVER JEWELLERY?
Wearing your jewellery often is one of the best ways you can avoid tarnish as the natural oils in your skin will keep it looking shiny and beautiful.
Whilst wearing your silver, however, avoid contact with household chemicals, detergents, rubber or any substances that contain sulphur as these will cause corrosion and tarnish (it’s always a good idea to remove your silver jewellery when doing household chores). Chlorinated water and direct sunlight also cause silver to tarnish so remember to remove your jewellery before you go swimming and sunbathing.
Finally, lotions, cosmetics, hairspray and perfumes can also accelerate tarnishing so make sure your jewellery is the last thing you put on when you get dressed.
When it comes to storing your silver jewellery, keep it in a cool, dark place away from sources of sunlight, heat and moisture. Exposure to air can tarnish it so storing silver in airtight plastic bags with anti-tarnish strips is a great preventative measure. Just make sure you don’t store multiple jewelry pieces in the same bag: silver is a soft metal so the individual pieces can scratch each other.
HOW DO I CLEAN TARNISHED SILVER?
Soap and water: Warm water and a mild, ammonia- and phosphate-free dishwashing soap should be your first port of call if a polishing cloth fails to remove tarnish.
You can also buy anti-tarnish silver jewellery dip but if you don’t have any, you can try this gentler home recipe. Boil a litre of water and let it cool down a little bit. Line a bowl with tin foil (shiny side up), pour in the hot water, add a tablespoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of salt. Stir the solution to allow the baking soda to dissolve then place your silver jewellery on top of the tin foil. This mixture causes a safe natural reaction that transfers the tarnish from the silver to the aluminum foil. Leave your silver jewellery immersed on top of the tinfoil for 5 minutes then rinse it with water before drying and buffing with a soft cloth.
One note of caution … never immerse jewellery that is set with pearls or gemstones as this could seriously damage softer stones or loosen settings. Give these pieces a very brief rinse if they become too dirty and stick to a polishing cloth instead.