Pure silver or fine silver is a relatively soft metal and generally too soft to make long lasting and strong jewellery. So to give pure silver extra strength, it is mixed with a little bit of other metal or metals, usually copper. The standard is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metal. This is the combination which we know as sterling silver. Nickel can be used as a metal in sterling silver or in certain processes of jewellery making. However, as nickel can cause allergic reactions in some people, all jewellery on Crowded Silver is nickel free.
The copper in the sterling silver may cause the sterling silver to tarnish or darken over time. This is a natural process of the sterling silver as it is exposed to hydrogen sulphide. This is a compound which is found both in the air, on our body and in certain materials. To reduce tarnishing there are a few steps you can take apart from regular cleaning.
Oxidisation is a heavy build up of tarnish usually in the finer details of the silver piece. Some sterling silver jewellery has deliberately been given an oxidised look. This is done to create a grey, smoky appearance, or to enhance the details of the design. To maintain this oxidised look, do not use commercial silver polish or cleaners or dips. The reason for this is that they will remove the oxidisation. Generally you do not need to clean oxidised jewellery. If needed, let it instead soak in warm water (not hot) with a little bit of mild detergent. Then just gently dab dry the oxidised jewellery piece.