What Is Sterling Silver? Facts About Showering and Sensitive Ears

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Sterling silver earrings are an undisputed classic that every woman needs in her jewelry box. They encapsulate the idea of understated elegance and are more wearable than their gold or rose gold counterparts.

If you’re looking for earrings that you can wear everywhere, from the office to brunch with your girlfriends, then sterling silver is a perfect choice.

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metalsSterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals

No one’s jewelry box is complete without sterling silver earrings. Whether you’re a fan of simple studs or dramatic drop earrings, sterling silver is the most versatile metal to choose.

We’re rounding up everything that you need to know about sterling silver, along with our list of the 12 best sterling silver earrings for women.

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver is a silver alloy that contains 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, traditionally copper or zinc. This composition is where ‘925 silver’ comes from. By comparison, pure silver is made up of 99.9% silver. You’ll usually see ‘925’ or ‘.925’ stamped into the metal.

Throughout history, silver has been a symbol of prosperity and wealth. Due to its strength and durability, silver has been used to make everything from plates and coffee sets to jewelry and homeware.

A sterling silver money clip, engraved on the front "To Harry" with the engraved signature in Monroe's hand "Love and Kisses / Marilyn MonroeA sterling silver money clip, engraved on the front “To Harry” with the engraved signature in Monroe’s hand “Love and Kisses / Marilyn Monroe (Credit: WENN)

Most of the silver items that you’ll find on the market are made using sterling silver as opposed to pure silver, including items made from luxury brands like Tiffany & Co.

Sterling silver is a more affordable alternative to pure silver, while still giving you the timeless appearance of silver. As sterling silver has added alloys, it’s more durable than its finer counterpart, while also being more malleable to shape into intricate silhouettes and designs.

Are sterling silver earrings good for sensitive ears?

Sterling silver earrings are generally considered safe to use for sensitive ears. Silver in its purest form is hypoallergenic, similar to gold or platinum.

It’s when the silver is mixed with the alloys that your ears may become irritated. Like anything, it will depend on just how sensitive your ears are to certain alloys.

If your skin takes a reaction to the sterling silver, it’s likely that you’re allergic to the metal alloys, usually copper. Unless you’re extremely sensitive to copper, you’ll usually be fine with sterling silver earrings.

If you fall into this category, it’s worth looking for sterling silver that uses other alloys, such as zinc.

Can you wear earrings in the shower?

We’ve all done it. You’ve stepped into the shower and you’re about to shampoo your hair when you feel them. Your earrings are still in your ears.

The good news is that showering with your earrings on usually won’t do them much harm. It may speed up the tarnishing process, especially if your shampoo uses harsh chemicals.

To prolong the life and luster of your earrings, you should remove your jewelry before showeringTo prolong the life and luster of your earrings, you should remove your jewelry before showering (Credit: WENN)

In general, you want to avoid sleeping or showering with any jewelry on. If your sterling silver jewelry is exposed to the elements, including moisture and water, it will tarnish quicker. If you happen to shower with your earrings on, don’t panic.

You can wear sterling silver on an everyday basis, which also helps prevents dust from building up on your pieces.

As it’s a durable metal, you can easily wear the same sterling silver earrings for ten years or more without any issues. If you’re looking for a signature piece, sterling silver earrings are a perfect choice.

Does sterling silver turn green?

Sterling silver will tarnish easier than pure silver. Both types will naturally tarnish over time as they’re exposed to air and the elements.

The alloy metals within sterling silver mean that it tarnishes easier, particularly if the alloys are copper, nickel, or zinc. These alloys speed up the tarnishing process.

If your sterling silver pieces start to turn green or tarnish over time, you can fix it. Your sterling silver earrings can be cleaned with a soft cloth and anti-tarnish cleaner from Amazon or Home Depot. You can also take your pieces to a jeweler for a professional clean.

This ultra-soft cloth polishes and applies an anti-tarnish barrier to protect silver from future tarnish build-upThis ultra-soft cloth polishes and applies an anti-tarnish barrier to protect silver from future tarnish build-up

The best way to keep your sterling silver from turning green is to store it in a dark place and in an air-tight box. If your sterling silver earrings come with a dust bag and box, it’s a good idea to store them in that.

The good news is that sterling silver will turn green a lot slower than your everyday costume jewelry and it’s also reversible.

If you’ve ever owned a sterling silver ring, you may find that it turns your finger green the first time you wear it. It happens as a result of the chemical reaction between your skin and the metal, usually caused by the copper alloy.

While sterling silver can turn green, it’s something that is both preventable and treatable.

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