Sterling silver rings are a much cheaper proposition these days, as gold continues to rise in price, and so gold jewelry is also increasingly expensive. Platinum is the other precious metal commonly used in jewelry and like gold is very expensive.
So having decided to avoid gold and platinum, and instead opt for a more affordable sterling silver ring, you need to get clued up on some details.
Firstly, what is sterling silver? Is it the same as pure silver? The answer is no. Pure silver is a rather soft malleable metal. It tarnishes quite readily, and if your rings were made of it, they would be very easily damaged or chipped. These undesirable properties are remedied by alloying silver with 7.5% copper. This alloy of 92.5% silver mixed with 7.5% copper is what we call “sterling” silver. This is why genuine sterling silver jewelry will usually have a “925” stamped on it. The mechanical properties of sterling silver are much better than pure silver, and it has been used widely for making beautiful, practical, and hard wearing jewelry – and at a far more attractive price!
The disadvantage of wearing sterling silver rings is that occasionally they can cause a green stain on your fingers. Many people believe that “fake” silver jewelry has this effect, but that sterling silver is okay. But remember, sterling silver contains copper, and it is the copper that causes the green coloration. So if you find that your fingers get the dreaded green stain, do not brand your sterling silver rings as fakes! They are fine. Some jewellers will be able to add a special coating to prevent this from happening. If you like this idea, go and ask your local jeweller.
If you are not too bothered about getting your fingers green, then that’s fine too; the stains wash off easily in warm water, and they won’t cause you any harm. You might wonder how the unsightly green stains happen though, and whether there are any tips available for preventing them, rather than going down the jeweller’s and paying for a special coating. The green coloration is the result of a chemical reaction of the copper with air and moisture on your skin. This can be avoided if you make certain not to wear your sterling silver rings during times when your hands are likely to get hot and sweaty, such as during exercise. Avoid wearing them in situations where your hands might get wet, for example when washing up dishes. Make sure you dry your hands thoroughly, especially between the fingers, before putting your rings back on.
Of course, stylistically (if you can avoid them turning your hands green) sterling silver rings are ideal inexpensive jewelry that suit all skin tones, and if you are worried about staining, and you can afford to pay a little more, then perhaps a white gold ring will fit the bill. They are just as attractive, and definitely will not turn your fingers green, but you will certainly need to pay more for them!