The fineness of a metal represents the percentage ratio of the main metal (in this case silver) and other metals or impurities in the alloy. For example, 830 means that the alloy consists of 83% silver and 17% of another metal. Buying jewellery from alloys with low fineness is not the best decision. Although it is cheaper, the jewellery made from such alloy will darken quickly and take a lot of time and effort to clean. Furthermore, the formula actually affects the appearance of the jewellery - the higher the fineness, the whiter the piece will look, and the lower the fineness, the yellower the metal will seem.
The most popular alloys are of the following fineness: 800, 830, 875, 925, 960, 999. However, 999 is usually only used for stamping of coins or making ingots. Jewellery with fineness lower than 800 is considered as non-precious alloys, hence not marketed well. Most jewellery is made from silver with the fineness of 925, or sterling silver, named after the coin which was made from it. Sterling silver has the same colour and anticorrosion characteristics as pure silver. The small number of impurities (7.5% to be precise) allows the piece to keep the original shine for longer. And even if it does darken after incorrect care, its previous appearance is easy to restore with the use of appropriate cleaning methods.
If you get a chance to hold the piece of jewellery before buying it, take a careful look at it. If, after handling the piece, your hands are slightly dirty - the piece is alloyed with zinc, which can be quite harmful to your health and is likely to make the metal more fragile. It’s also very important for silver jewellery not to have any sulfur in it. If there is even a tiny amount of it, the piece will rapidly lose colour and eventually go completely black.
Also be mindful of fraudsters who sell silver plated brass jewellery as pure silver. It’s easy to determine whether the piece is fake - just gently scratch the inside of the jewellery with a sharp object (like a pin or a needle). You will know it’s fake if the silver layer comes off, revealing a dark metal underneath.
Health benefits of silver
Silver jewellery is a special gift for excessively allergic people. Not only is it a hypoallergenic metal, but it also helps with the healing of small wounds, which may have occurred after wearing jewellery from other metals. There’s no question about silver’s antiphlogistic properties either - the metal has antibacterial properties, inactivating viruses or fungus without any side effects.