Silver and Sterling Silver are often confused as one and the same. What most people fail to realize is that silver is pure metal, and Sterling is an alloy. Sterling silver is made up of silver but also has a combination of other metals. It is approximately 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals such as copper and steel.
Why does Sterling silver contain other metals?
Silver is very soft. If you tried to make utensils out of it, it would bend and not hold its shape. It is the reason Sterling silver exists, as people want to make functional items out of the beautiful metal. Just by adding around 7.5% other metals, the newly formed alloy, Sterling silver, is firmer and more stable and will retain not only the shape but the shiny look too. Thus, Sterling silver is used in making utensils and other household items.
But there is a downside to using Sterling silver. While silver does tarnish over time, Sterling silver tends to oxidize faster and is the main reason you’ll have to keep polishing your silver frequently.
Besides Silver and Sterling, there is Silver plating. When a base metal such as nickel is layered with pure silver it is referred to as silver plating. It is the most durable of od the silver products and less expensive, as the percentage of silver is quite small. Most base metals need a recoating of pure silver just to maintain the shiny outer coat and retain the base metal from showing.
Nickel silver: A combination of nickel, copper, zinc that is not silver but resembles it well. It is inexpensive and widely sold as look-alike jewelry.
Vermeil: Vermeil was popular in the eighteenth century as silver was plated with gold and provided a polished and expensive custom looking piece of jewelry.
Silver is and will remain, an exceptional choice when looking for beautiful jewelry that’s precious, attractive and inexpensive.
Now you know the difference between fine silver and other silvers.