Sterling Silver Beads

Written by Sarah Provost
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There are two main types of sterling silver beads. The first kind, sleek and contemporary, are manufactured. Shiny surfaces, a wide variety of shapes and uniform sizing are high points of manufactured sterling beads, which are 92.5 percent silver.

The second type are generally called Bali beads, though they may come from anywhere in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Laos and Burma. These beads are handcrafted by silversmiths who have passed their skills down through generations. They are intricately designed, and then oxidized to give them depth and character.

Caring for Sterling Silver Beads

Even the best sterling is subject to tarnishing if not properly cared for. Anything acidic or sulfuric, even paper or cardboard, will give off fumes that damage your beads. A rubber band will turn silver black even through several layers of protective plastic. Store your silver in a plastic zip-sealing bag or a Tupperware container. You can also put it in a wooden or stone box. Don't store it in the bathroom, since moisture encourages corrosion.

Protect your silver from perfumes and cosmetics, and wipe it down with a soft cloth before storing it to remove body oils. Manufactured silver beads can be cleaned thoroughly by dipping them in a tarnish remover, but it will remove the characteristic oxidation of Bali beads. Thick polishing pastes, on the other hand, are difficult to remove from the intricate designs. The best method of cleaning them is to wipe them lightly with a cloth that has been moistened with the cleaning solution.

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