Is sterling silver good for earrings? Whether you have sensitive ears or not, when shopping for earrings, it is important that the pieces you choose not only look great but will be safe on sensitive skin, too. Among the glittering array of jewelry options, sterling silver earrings have emerged as a timeless and beloved choice for everyday wear. But sterling silver earrings offer more than just aesthetics.
Silver is one of the most common and oldest precious metals used to make jewelry. With it comes a fascinating history and cultural significance. However, modern metal smithing techniques have created many new ways of combining silver with other base metals as a means of making jewelry more affordable, durable, and stylish. But at what cost?
In this article, we will examine how these techniques are used to create the sterling silver jewellery we buy today, how they impact quality, and whether sterling silver is good for earrings and those with skin sensitivities.
Table of Contents
What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is a precious metal alloy renowned for its gleaming luster and versatile applications in the world of jewelry and beyond. It consists of 92.5% pure silver, often noted by a “925” engraving, and 7.5% of other metals, typically copper. This specific composition gives sterling silver pieces their durability while retaining the inherent beauty of silver.
The origins of sterling silver can be traced back to medieval Europe, where it first gained prominence as a reliable standard for currency and trade.
The term “sterling” is believed to have been derived from the Old Norman French word “esterlin,” which meant “little star.” This name was associated with the star-shaped mark that was stamped on English silver coins to denote their quality.
Over time, sterling silver became widely adopted for crafting various items, from exquisite jewelry to decorative tableware, and its allure transcended borders.
Today, it remains a symbol of elegance and craftsmanship, beloved by individuals seeking both beauty and longevity in their cherished possessions.
Is Sterling Silver Good for Earrings and Allergies
In the context of jewelry, the term “hypoallergenic” refers to materials or products that are designed to minimize the likelihood of causing an allergic reaction, such as itching, redness, or contact dermatitis. Earrings are often worn for extended periods, making it crucial that they are made from materials that are not only beautiful but also safe.
The silver alloy process is a crucial factor in the production of skin-safe jewelry. When shopping for hypoallergenic earrings or other jewelry, it is essential to distinguish between pure and plated or coated jewelry.
Jewelry made from a high-quality or pure form of hypoallergenic material is less likely to cause allergies.
Plated or coated jewelry poses a higher risk of reaction, especially as the plating wears off over time, exposing the base metal underneath, which is most likely not hypoallergenic.
Is Sterling Silver Hypoallergenic?
Yes, sterling silver is hypoallergenic. However, as mentioned previously, sterling silver is still an alloy. The high purity of fine silver in sterling silver, containing a “925 marking, ensures the limited presence of allergenic alloy metals, such as nickel or lead. This qualifies genuine sterling silver as a hypoallergenic material and a suitable choice for individuals with sensitive skin or metal allergies.n
Other Types of Hypoallergenic Metal
Pure Gold (24K Gold): Pure gold is among the most costly metals due to its rarity and high demand. It is highly durable and resistant to tarnish, making it an excellent choice for jewelry. However, gold mining has significant environmental impacts, including habitat destruction and chemical pollution. The best way to slow these impacts is to purchase gold jewelry from brands that are part of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurances.
14K or 18K Gold (Yellow or Rose): 14K and 18K gold alloys are moderately priced, with 18K being more expensive. They are highly durable, as the higher gold content makes them less susceptible to tarnish and wear. Gold mining is associated with environmental concerns, but the use of recycled gold is becoming more common.
Pure Platinum (950 Platinum): Pure platinum is a very expensive, high-quality metal due to its rarity. It is exceptionally durable and resistant to tarnish. Platinum mining can have environmental challenges, including habitat disruption and carbon emissions, but efforts are being made to mitigate these impacts.
Titanium: Titanium is moderately priced and known for being a remarkably durable metal. It is highly resistant to corrosion and tarnish. The environmental impact of titanium mining is relatively low compared to some other metals due to its wide availability and lower resource consumption.
Surgical Steel: Surgical steel is moderately priced and highly durable, making it suitable for body jewelry. It is more resistant to corrosion and staining than stainless steel. While the environmental impact of steel production is significant, surgical steel is often made from recycled steel, reducing its overall environmental footprint.
Brass: Brass is relatively durable and affordable when compared to precious metals like gold or platinum, making it a cost-effective choice for jewelry that’s meant to last. However, brass is an alloy composed of copper and zinc, and both of these metals can be environmentally impactful when not responsibly sourced. Look for jewelry made of recycled brass when possible.
How to Buy Quality Sterling Silver Earrings
Look for Marks of Authenticity
True sterling silver jewelry should always have a “925” marking somewhere on the piece, signifying the silver content. For rings, it is usually on the inside of the band. Necklaces usually contain a mark near the clasp or pendant loop.
Earrings are more difficult to spot because there often is little room for the fineness mark. However, the most common places to find it are on the earring posts and backer.
Examine Labels and Product Descriptions
Look for mentions of plating or coating processes. Anything labeled as coated or silver-plated jewelry usually indicates that a very small amount of real silver was used to cover a piece of jewelry made from a composition of other metals.
Though these jewelry pieces may not cause skin reactions initially, they can cause skin irritation over time as the thin layer of silver wears away to expose the other metals beneath. If you have nickel allergies, it is a good idea to look for jewelry specifically labeled as nickel-free sterling silver.
Sustainability and Ethical Considerations
Metal and gem mining practices have had a major impact on the environment and quality of life for millions of people working in the industry worldwide. One way to ensure you’re buying quality hypoallergenic jewelry is to buy from brands that have taken steps to support higher industry standards. Now, there are several steps you can take to help support responsible jewelry practices.
- Purchase estate or second-hand pieces
- Shop recycled or ethically sourced materials
- Buy from brands with sustainability certifications, like:
Caring for Sterling Silver Earrings
To maintain the hypoallergenic properties and the lustrous appearance of your sterling silver earrings, it’s essential to follow a few proper care tips.
First, store your earrings in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Prolonged exposure to moisture can cause tarnishing. Consider using anti-tarnish pouches or airtight containers for added protection.
Regular cleaning is vital to preserve the shine of your earrings. Use a soft cloth, like a lint-free polishing cloth, to gently wipe them clean after wear to remove oils, sweat, and dirt.
For more thorough cleaning, use a silver-specific cleaning solution or a mild soap and warm water. Avoid abrasive materials like toothbrushes, which can scratch the surface. Be sure to dry the earrings completely after cleaning.
When wearing sterling silver earrings, try to keep them away from harsh chemicals, such as household cleaners, perfumes, and hairsprays, as these can lead to tarnishing. Additionally, always remove your earrings before swimming in chlorinated pools or hot tubs, as the chemicals can react with the silver.
Lastly, avoid exposing your earrings to sudden temperature changes, such as extreme heat, as this can cause them to expand or contract, potentially leading to damage.
By following these proper maintenance tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can enjoy the beauty and hypoallergenic properties of your sterling silver earrings for years to come.
Styling with Sterling Silver Earrings and Jewelry
Sterling silver is a versatile metal that complements a wide range of styles, skin tones, and color palettes, making it a perfect addition to any wardrobe, even a minimalist capsule wardrobe.
From classic and timeless pieces to modern, artistic, edgy, or boho, there are silver jewelry pieces to complement any look.
Popular Sterling Silver Earrings & More: Available with Prime
It may be a bit of a surprise, but there are actually a few brands selling sustainable jewelry on Amazon.
Boma is a B-certified brand selling sustainable, hypoallergenic jewelry from recycled materials.
Pavoi is another brand using recycled material in an effort to make their jewelry more sustainable. We have ordered from this brand before and have been very pleased with the quality and affordability.
Both brands are a great option for trendy pieces of jewelry and hypoallergenic sterling silver. Here are a few beautiful earrings,
Best Sterling Silver Earrings
Silver Hoop Earrings
Sterling silver earrings with a fineness mark of 925 are considered hypoallergenic and safe for those with sensitive ears.
When shopping for jewelry, always take a close look at the brand, jewelry description, quality marks, and any environmental or sustainability certifications they have. Each of these elements will help ensure you find the highest quality jewelry for your skin and budget.
Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site dedicated to helping readers improve their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her listening to audiobooks while gardening, visiting with family, or traveling.