Education Center

Silver Jewelry

At Karat our silver pieces are only of the finest sterling silver. The pieces presented are of the most exquisite quality from the most revered and skilled craftsmen. The guide below will assist you in learning to identify the finest in silver jewelry and accessories.

What is Sterling Silver?

To be classified as Sterling Silver an item must be over 90% pure silver, and is commonly mixed with alloys to add strength. This is not to be confused with silver-plated which is only a coating of silver over another base metal.

Fine Sterling Silver

Fine silver is easily damaged, malleable, and relatively soft, so it is common practice to combine it with other metals to produce a stronger piece. This also the case with gold, which is blended with other metals to create 18 or 14 karat jewelry from 24 karat pure gold stock. The most popular of these blending alloys is pure copper.

Why use copper as the most prominent alloy? While any metal can make up the 7.5 percent non-silver portion of sterling silver, throughout the centuries, experience has shown copper to be its best choice, aiding the metal’s strength and durability without affecting its beautiful color.

The small amount of copper added to sterling does not devalue the metal’s quality. More important to the price of the final piece is the time and labor involved in making the item, the skill of the silversmith, and the detail of the design.

Quality Stamps

Federal law states that silver jewelry must be accompanied by a maker’s mark or registered trademark.

All of our quality silver items are stamped with a "fineness" or "quality" mark.

Alloys and Silver

Because of silver’s inherent malleability or softness, it is necessary to mix an alloy to provide wear-ability for the recipient, except in the case of woven silver.

Due to its unique combination of beauty and durability, sterling silver is the preferred metal for jewelry and household accessories.
The traditional quality marks for sterling silver include:

  • .925
  • sterling
  • sterling silver

Caring for your precious silver

With the correct techniques, your fine quality silver will last for generations. Always store your silver jewelry either in a cloth pouch or in a separate compartment in your jewelry box to protect it from scratches and other damage. Avoid exposing your silver to strong household chemicals such as bleach or ammonia,. Take care not to wear your silver jewelry when swimming in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can damage silver.

Regular care for silver

Tarnish build-up occurs naturally and dulls the metal’s surface as the silver reacts with sulfur or hydrogen sulfide in the air. You can find fine silver polishes, solutions, or cloths appropriate to remove tarnish at most hardware stores or specialty craft stores. To clean your silver, we advise you only use polishes formulated specifically to remove tarnish so that you do not damage your precious items.

Wearing and enjoying your silver jewelry is the very best way to prevent tarnish build-up. Nonetheless, we recommend regular cleanings of all your silver items to prevent tarnish and keep your silver bright and beautiful.

To ensure the quality of your purchase, we recommend that you check for the fineness mark and the maker's mark on the underside of any silver item you are considering.


  • GIA
  • JewelerID
  • website security
  • VISA
  • TRUSTe Certified Privacy Seal
  • GoogleCheckout
  • FEDEX
  • UPS