Your Guide to Buying Sterling Silver Earrings

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Your Guide to Buying Sterling Silver Earrings

You have probably heard of sterling silver before at some point in your life. Perhaps your mother or grandmother owned a sterling silver tableware set or tea set that was carefully treasured in a small cupboard. Perhaps you received an heirloom sterling silver necklace and want to buy matching sterling silver earrings. Or perhaps you never heard of sterling silver until you were standing in the jewellery store or shopping online through eBay, and a pair of sterling silver earrings caught your eye. Sterling silver is a high-grade classification of silver, and one of the few types used for fine jewellery. The bright quality of this metal makes for exceptional earring settings, even if they lack gemstones. Of course, adding gemstones to these earrings only increases their sparkle. When buying sterling silver earrings, customers should select a pair based on the style, value, and care requirements of the set.

Qualities of Sterling Silver

To completely understand the benefits of purchasing sterling silver, you need to know what properties make this metal desirable. Pure silver is a difficult and impractical choice for metalsmiths to work with, and so it is rarely found in jewellery. Most silver is mixed with another alloy, usually copper, to make it more malleable. Below are some examples of different sterling grades.


Pure Silver Percentage


Britannia Silver



Mexican Silver



Sterling Silver



Coin Silver



German Silver



Sterling silver is usually the dividing line between high-grade and low-grade silver. Any piece with a higher silver content than sterling silver is usually sold as fine silver.


Sterling silver looks remarkably similar to pure silver in colour. Some of the lower-grade silver types appear dark with a slight orange tint due to the high amount of copper within them. Sterling silver is very light and has a naturally bright sheen that is enhanced with polishing. It is a very light grey with deep and rich shades of darker grey within the metal.

Tarnishing Issues

Some metals oxidise when exposed to moist conditions, causing their surface to become discoloured in a process known as tarnishing. Both copper and silver tarnish when they are exposed to the elements, but silver has a slightly higher resistance than copper. This means that silver pieces with a high copper content tarnish quicker than those like sterling silver. As long as sterling silver is stored in a dry area and periodically polished to remove any buildup, there is no reason why tarnishing should become a problem.

Skin Issues

If you have ever worn a silver bracelet and taken it off only to find a green ring around your skin where the bracelet used to be, then you know the problem of purchasing low-grade silver. All the copper content within these silver blends are not ideal for human skin, since copper sometimes causes a reaction that turns the skin green. Because sterling silver uses a low amount of copper, it does not discolour your skin the way highly alloyed silvers do.

Selecting Sterling Silver Earrings

Now that you understand what sets sterling silver apart from the rest, it is time to go about choosing the right sterling silver earrings. Earrings come in several different styles, and some are more casual than others. A pair of small hoop earrings, for example, can be worn every day to work. On the other hand, if you are going to a formal event, you might want to purchase a set of fine sterling silver drop earrings enhanced with gemstones. Buy your silver earrings based on your current needs, and you can always find a style that fits your sense of style as well as your budget.

Sterling Silver Studs

Studs are tiny little earrings that can easily be worn every day. Young girls who have recently had their ears pierced, often wear studs because they are so lightweight. Even older women who dislike heavy jewellery have no problem with stud earrings. Sterling silver stud earrings usually have a small metallic design or a solitaire gemstone setting with a sterling silver backing.

Sterling Silver Hoops

A pair of tiny sterling silver hoop earrings can looks chic when you wear your hair down. You can also switch them for a set of large hoop earrings when you wear your hair up for a funkier style. Hoops are playful, casual earrings, and while very large hoop earrings may not be appropriate for work, smaller ones fit in perfectly. When purchasing sterling silver hoop earrings, you must understand that the size of the hoops affects the weight of the earring. If you are not used to wearing heavy earrings, then large sterling silver hoops are probably not the best option.

Sterling Silver Drop Earrings

Drop earrings are the cornerstone of elegance in the earring world. You can find traditional pieces featuring several gemstones in a sterling silver setting, or you can select a sleek, modern drop earring style featuring only a single gemstone. Sterling silver is a good choice for drop earrings because the brightness of the metal does not make it look dull against the gemstones. It is also quite strong and less likely to get scratched compared to one made of gold.

Sterling Silver Chandelier Earrings

The chandelier style is an exaggerated take on the drop earring look. They use several chains that hang below the ears along with overly large settings. Most chandelier earrings are pieces of costume jewellery, but there are some vintage Victorian pieces made out of real gemstones and precious metals like sterling silver that fit into this category. Chandelier earrings are not often worn on a daily basis. Like drop earrings, they are intended for special occasions, though they may be too large for a formal event.

Caring for Sterling Silver Earrings

No matter which style you purchase, you need to know how to properly care for your earrings. Sterling silver needs to be cleaned on occasion to keep it from tarnishing. There are two ways to do this: either you can buy a bottle of silver polish, or you can use a homemade mixture of baking soda and salt. Many owners alternate between the two, since silver polish actually strips away the top layer of silver due to its strong chemicals, while the baking soda mixture does not.

Water Damage

When cleaning silver earrings, always use a brush, or soft, sponge instead of dipping the earring in water. Completely submerging an earring, especially those with gemstone settings, is never a good idea. Water can leak into hard-to-reach areas under the setting and start to rust the metal prongs holding the gemstone onto the earring. Once this process begins, it is difficult to stop. Therefore, it is best to prevent rust damage from occurring at all by only cleaning the earrings with a brush.

Shopping for Sterling Silver Earrings on eBay

There is a gigantic collection of earrings on eBay made from all types of metals. Here, you can find a wide selection of sterling silver earrings in a variety of styles combined with beautiful gemstones. It is even possible to discover a pair of antique sterling silver earrings that are exquisite and unique. Learn how to successfully navigate eBay using the search engine to find your perfect pair of earrings.

Searching for Sterling Silver earrings on eBay

The selection of sterling silver earrings on eBay is absolutely enormous. You can see this for yourself by doing a simple search for 'sterling silver earrings' as it likely returns thousands of results. You can try to limit the results by adding qualities you want in your earrings. For example, if you like sterling silver studs, then search for 'sterling silver stud earrings'. If you want diamond studs in particular, then search for 'sterling silver diamond stud earrings'. Adding extra terms helps you narrow down your search into a more manageable set of results.

Sterling Silver vs. Plated Silver

Sometimes on eBay you may find results for earrings that say they are plated with sterling silver. This means that instead of being made completely out of sterling silver, they use another metal alloy and give the earrings a sterling silver coat. While sterling silver plated earrings are cheaper, they are also less durable. Cleaning them with silver polish can actually remove the silver plating in certain sections, giving them an uneven appearance.


Sterling silver earrings are a good choice for anyone who wants beautiful and hygienic jewellery in their ears. Unlike low-grade silver with a high copper content, sterling silver does not discolour the skin. It has more silver content than all other grades, except for the fine silver classes. Furthermore, sterling silver is less likely to tarnish as long as it is periodically cleaned. When purchasing sterling silver earrings on eBay, you should pay attention to the style and value of the earrings when making your decision. True sterling silver is more expensive than its counterparts, but it is also more valuable. Some styles that use more silver content in their earring settings, especially the drop and chandelier varieties, are usually more expensive than studs and hoops. Once you find that perfect pair of sterling silver earrings that stands out from the rest, you can enjoy them for years to come.

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