Sterling silver is a grade of workable silver with a minimum of 92.5 percent pure silver, alloyed with 7.5 percent copper, titanium, or platinum. Sterling silver is more resilient than fine or pure silver, which makes it more suited for use in jewellery. Sterling silver charms are available in an array of designs, and are collected by people of all ages and backgrounds. Some choose to collect charms of a particular theme, usually something that they are passionate about, such as animals or fantasy. Others collect charms based on special occasions or milestones, such as birthdays, graduations, births, or marriages. A long standing tradition is to begin collecting charms for a baby when they are born, and adding charms to the collection at each milestone.
Sterling silver charms can be found in most good jewellers and online at eBay, which has an selection of vintage and contemporary charms in a range of designs.
What is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is a silver alloy used to make jewellery, tableware, and other decorative and practical items. Many people mistake sterling silver for pure silver. Pure silver is a very soft metal. It bends, does not hold a shape well, tarnishes and oxidises very quickly, which means that it is not suitable to make practical items. Sterling silver is made from at least 92.5 percent pure silver. The remaining 7.5 percent consists of other metals such as copper, titanium, or platinum. These other metals help to harden the silver and change its consistency so that it can retain its shape.
For trade purposes, the weight and purity of silver was heavily regulated, and by the 1200s sterling silver became the general measure in the UK and across most of Europe. It is believed that silver was regulated before this time, but the regulation differed with geography. The introduction of sterling silver saw widespread standardisation and regulation of the quality of silver. Today, sterling silver is used most often to make jewellery. It is less expensive and more robust than gold. Silver is also less ostentatious and many wearers prefer its simple, graceful appearance.
Origin of Charms
Charms date back to prehistory, with evidence suggesting they were used at least 75,000 years ago. Originally charms were made from wood, shells, clay, or other natural materials. They were worn as amulets for protection, prosperity, and luck, or as symbols of faith. Charms have also been worn commonly for their aesthetic appeal, which is the main reason that they are worn today. Sterling silver charms have been popular for several hundred years, although for centuries they were very expensive, and only the wealthy elite could afford them. Now, sterling silver is attainable, with a lower price tag that is accessible to everyone.
Sterling Silver Charm Hallmarks
All items made from sterling silver since the 1200s carry a hallmark. A hallmark indicates that the metal conforms to the sterling silver standards. The presence of a hallmark also indicates the year that the charm was made, and usually the location and manufacturer. A magnifying glass may be required to identify the hallmark on sterling silver charms.
Types of Sterling Silver Charms
Sterling silver charms can be chosen based on a theme. However, not everyone chooses their charms according to a theme, some choose specific charms that hold a meaning to them or serve as a reminder of a special event or milestone in their life. Others simply purchase sterling silver charms that they find attractive. The choice of sterling silver charms is diverse, and there is no limit to the number or type of charms that a buyer can collect.
Themed Sterling Silver Charms
Many people decide to collect sterling silver charms with a specific theme. Charms can be found to suit almost any area of interest. One of the most common themes is animals, whether cute, cuddly, and cartoonish, or lifelike. Another popular theme is baby related charms.. Fantasy, romantic, sports, floral, luck, and musical themed charms are often collected as groups. Charms can be found to suit every taste and passion.
Milestone and Special Occasion Sterling Silver Charms
Milestone sterling silver charms are worn as a reminder or a symbolic representation of events in a person’s life. Traditionally, a charm collection is started when a baby is born, and the first charm represents the milestone of birth. Further charms are added to the collection at other milestones, such as a christening, a baby’s first steps, starting school, and graduation. These milestone charms are often continued into adulthood, for instance when the collector gets engaged, married, and has children. Special occasion charms serve as a reminder of other special events, such as birthdays and achievements. Milestone and special occasion sterling silver charms make a great gift, or buyers can simply choose to treat themselves and mark events in their own lives.
Condition of Sterling Silver Charms
Sterling silver charms can be bought in either a new or used condition. New charms should show no signs of wear, and should be clean, unscratched, and untarnished. Buying used sterling silver charms is a good option for those who would like a very unusual charm that is no longer in production. Vintage charms are very popular with collectors, as there are many uncommon or rare examples available. Some modern used charms often cost much less than brand new ones.
If buying used sterling silver charms, shoppers should check the quality and condition. Examine the charm for excessive damage and ensure that there is no signs of corrosion. Some tarnishing or the presence of surface oxidation indicated by a film on the charm, is not a concern as this is easy to clean away, but corrosion indicates that the metal is damaged, so these charms should be avoided. The top of the charm that attaches to a charm bracelet or jump ring should be complete and in good condition. If it is split, it is not able to stay securely on a bracelet. Some light scratches are acceptable, but the metal should not have any large, deep flaws, and the shape should be true to the original form.
Caring for Sterling Silver Charms
Sterling silver charms are easy to care for. Sterling silver has a tendency to oxidise over time and develops a tarnish or a patina, caused by the metal reacting with the air. To combat this, buyers can store their charms in a protective cloth bag to reduce the oxidation process. Silver can be cleaned with a mild soap and warm water. Buyers can also use a liquid silver cleaner, but strong chemicals should be avoided because they can damage the silver.
How to Buy Sterling Silver Charms on eBay
Buyers are able to search for sterling silver charms from the eBay home page by entering a phrase in the search box on any page, such as "sterling silver charms &". Once they have found the thousands of charms that eBay has to offer, they can narrow down their search results using the eBay filters. These filters allow the buyer to find the right item by choosing features of the sterling silver charms, the condition, or the price range.
Read the Item Description
Buyers should make sure they read the description of the item carefully and look at the photograph. Good sellers provide an honest and accurate description of the item, including any blemishes or wear marks in the case of a used sterling silver charm. If the buyer has any questions about the item they can contact the seller directly using the "Ask a question" link. Sellers should be happy to provide additional information to promote a positive transaction.
Buyers should look at the feedback of the seller before purchasing an item. Previous buyers leave feedback for the seller once the transaction has been completed. Feedback can be positive, negative, or neutral. Sellers who have a high percentage of positive feedback are likely to offer a high quality service.
Charms have been in use since the prehistoric era and are still popular. Sterling silver charms make an excellent collectors item, keepsake, gift, or fashion accessory. Sterling silver is a precious metal mixed with a small amount of copper, titanium, or platinum to make it workable and durable. There are many contemporary designs along with some very interesting vintage examples. A lovely tradition involves beginning a charm collection with the birth of a child and adding a new charm at every milestone. These charm collections can be continued into adulthood and passed down to the next generation.
To keep sterling silver charms in a good condition, buyers should store them in cloth bags to reduce oxidation and damage. Any debris, tarnishing or oxidation can be cleaned away using mild soap or a liquid silver cleaner. Sterling silver charms can be found in almost any design. Whether collecting milestone charms, themed charms, or just a random selection, eBay has something for everyone, with thousands of sterling silver charms to choose from.