Sterling silver beads are decorative spacers used to add an interesting feature or accent to a piece of jewelry. They can be round like a regular bead, or shaped like objects.
Flowers, stars and animals are popular themes that sterling silver beads can follow, as well as styles that capture a sense of age and antiquity. Celtic designs are also increasingly popular, particularly in necklaces.
Sterling silver beads can be collector's items. They can be intricately designed and detailed, using exotic markings of bygone eras. Sterling silver beads come from the tradition of wearing silver charms or amulets that go back beyond the ancient Egyptians.
Sterling silver beads can tarnish
Sterling silver beads are made from an alloy of silver that uses other metals, usually copper or zinc, to increase its strength. This alloy has existed since before the 13th century. Its high purity is an advantage, as the more pure the alloy the less aggressively the metal will tarnish.
Sterling silver beads will tarnish in time. Tarnish is a black oxidation that will form on the surface of the sterling silver beads, but is not always a bad thing. Often, it will occur in the grooves of the sterling silver bead and add to the antique-like look and feel of the bead.
Tarnish is only a bad thing if the look of the piece was to be clean. If this is the case, tarnishing can be minimized by avoiding wetting the sterling silver bead, or using hair spray while you are wearing jewelry that features them.
Store in an airtight container, as it is the oxygen and sulfur in the air that oxides the silver within the bead.
Sterling silver beads can be coated in rhodium to prevent tarnish, but it gives the jewelry the look of platinum and is not always a desirable.
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