I would like to start my first blog in english, jewelry related, about sterling silver which is probably one of the most popular precious metals for jewelry making of all time. It is so popular at the moment that now you can find the option of wearing it in silver, gold or rose gold. For those who still prefer golden colors, you can always go for a vermeil piece, which is sterling silver underneath with real gold on top (my favorite combination). But going back what sterling silver actually is, it is very important to clear out some things. Pure silver is 100% silver which is the best obviously, but very hard to work with in the jewelry industry. Since it´s too soft you can´t do much of a thing with it. Now here´s when sterling silver comes along, which is 92.5% silver content and the other 7.5% is usually an alloy of other metals (like copper). That´s why here in Mexico sterling silver is often marked as 925. Sometimes you can find 950 or even 970 marked sterling silver, which means you´re buying a better quality silver.
Speaking about Mexican sterling silver, there´s an outstanding quality silver only if you know where and how to buy it. I´ve heard many times people saying that Mexican sterling silver it is not of a best quality since it tarnishes so fast and the price they pay for it is way too high. Sounds familiar to you? Oh yeah, these things happen every time you go to Cancun or Cabos and want to grab something to remind you of.
So here are some useful facts/tips to consider when buying sterling silver in Mexico:
- In Mexico, most of the silver jewelry you can buy when going on vacation to Cancun or Playa del Carmen is made of ¨silver¨ called alpaca, which is actually silver plate, but some vendors try to fool you by calling it Mexican sterling silver (it happened to me too). Even though it is marked 925, it´s not necessarily sterling silver.
- The real silver doesn’t have to shine much. So not everything that shines is…silver. The jewelry made with alpaca tends to shine way more and probably will attract you to buy it in the first place.
- A sterling silver piece will usually stain a cloth when rubbed against it. The final proof it will always be using nitric acid (HNO3) which tends to discolor any metal except the silver. Well, I don’t think you´ll carry it around when traveling so … stick to the first rule instead 🙂
- Sterling silver is always heavier and colder then silver plate (alpaca).
- When in Mexico, try to avoid buying silver with the peddlers and do not be fooled by their ¨intriguing¨stories about the piece you wish to purchase. Look for trustable sources, including try to do some research before traveling to Mexico, ask your friends who already traveled there or relatives who might know more about the issue.
- If the sterling silver jewelry piece has gemstones in it, make sure to ask whether is genuine or not, so they actually realize you do know what you´re buying.
- When buying silver in Mexico, make sure that you are not sold Italian or Chinese sterling silver (I know…it´s ridiculous) . The Thai one is quite a better option but you barely find it here.
- If you are a silver lover I recommend you to visit two places in Mexico when hunting on good quality silver: Zacatecas and of course Taxco (Guerrero) – the ancient silver mining town, where you can get to meet the artisans in person who sell their own silver jewelry of the best quality. You´re getting it straight from the source.
I really hope you found my tips helpful…Wishing you luck with your silver hunting, I´m sure you´ll get the good stuff after all…
See you next time!