What is Silver?
Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and is sometimes referred to as pure silver. Sterling silver will tarnish over time but with care and regular cleaning can be restored to its good as new sparkling condition. The remaining 7.5% is usually copper but can be other metal and is used to give this precious metal strength and durability.
Generally, the higher the silver content the brighter or whiter the metal but beware of antiquing effects that can make a piece of sterling silver jewellery or decorative silverware look dark. Silver which is 99.9% silver is too soft to be practical for most day to day uses. Do not use tissue or anything other than a jewellery cleaning cloth to polish your jewellery as unseen tiny hard fibers will scratch the surface.
Care for Antique Gemstones
Gemstones are a valuable part of any piece of antique jewellery. Common sense is the best preventative measure when caring for any antique gemstone. Although the metal components of ornaments often receive the most attention, gemstone care is equally as important.
Hairdryers should never be used to dry freshly-cleaned gemstones, and no pieces should ever come in contact with chlorine. It is crucial to protect antique jewellery as a whole, in order to maintain as much value as possible over time.
Gemstones are so durable
A few are mineraloids not true minerals and are including here: opal, amber, and moldavite. Foremost is durability - it must not easily corrode away, nor can it be brittle. It is so durable that nearly all of the gold ever mined is still in circulation or storage. In some cases, the names are true misnomers, such as Green Amethyst for prasiolite-a transparent green variety of quartz.
In most cases, these variety names are historical, as the gemstones were not recognized as being varieties of other minerals until well after the name was in common use such as aquamarine, emerald, and heliodor as varieties of beryl. And that is related to the third characteristic, ductility. You can see the options are endless and when you are commissioning a piece, why compromise a thing when you can choose!