First – what makes an item sterling versus just silver? It’s the metal content. Like many metals pure silver, like pure gold or pure copper, can be pliable and to soft to make jewelry with. To counter the metal’s natural qualities it is often blended with other metals to create stronger, more durable pieces. To be classified as sterling, the metal must contain 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metal, often copper.
In jewelry pieces sterling silver is often marked 925 or sterling to signify the metal content. Looking for these marks is a good way to ensure that you’re getting a more quality metal that is likely to hold up better with wear and use.
Sterling, as a metal alloy, was developed in Europe and can be traced back to at least the 12th century in the form of coins in the area now known as northern Germany. The popularity of sterling silver grew in Colonial America when American silversmiths began using the metal standard in all the pieces they created.
As trade increased between colonist and Native Americans, many tribes began using silver in the making of their jewelry. This process started in the early 1800s and by the 1850s many Navajo, Zuni and Hopi tribes had adopted silverwork into their jewelry. Today Southwestern jewelry and sterling silver go hand-in-hand.
Discover stunning sterling silver selections in the shop!