WHAT SILVER IS BEST FOR JEWELRY? MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ASKED:
If you are thinking that all silver jewelry is same and that it is made up of pure silver, then you are definitely wrong. People have been asking various questions regarding the composition of silver jewelry and are confused to choose from the available ones for their jewelry. Our inboxes have been flooded by e-mails in which people have asked various questions. Most of the e-mails comprised of similar questions like: What silver is best for jewelry? What is sterling silver? Is silver jewelry composed of pure silver? What exactly is fine silver?
Keeping in view all the genuine questions and queries asked by our beloved customers, we have written this article that will entertain all your questions regarding various silver alloys and different types of silver that are mostly used to make jewelry products. Read this article to the very end so that no further confusion regarding silver jewelry resides in your mind and you make the best decision according to your requirements, likes and dislikes when buying silver jewelry for yourself or your loved ones. Let’s get started!
TYPES OF SILVER:
There are many types of silver jewelry available in stores. It is important to get familiar with the different types of silver used to make jewelry. Silver in its very pure form is an extremely soft metal. It can easily get damaged and can change shape due to even slight application of pressure. Due to this very reason, silver alone in its pure form is not mostly used to make jewelry. It is combined with other elements from the periodic table to make it harder to the desired level.
Silver jewelry typically also has a stamp on it that determines its type and quality. In some cases, you can only see these quality stamps using magnifying glass on silver pieces. Some jewelry pieces are tiny enough and do not have the quality makings due to the unavailability of fair surface area, yet they are quality alloys.
Let us now discuss some different silver alloy quality standards with their pros and cons. This will give you an in-depth picture of different silver grades and which one to buy.
As the name depicts, .999 silver consists of 99.9% pure silver and 0.1% very trivial trace elements. This is the maximum purity you can attain while considering silver in your head. This fine silver or pure silver is extremely soft and delicate. Though lustrous, pure silver can easily lose shape and can be scratched easily. Due to this very reason, fine silver is not recommended in manufacturing jewelry products that are worn on high impact areas and undergo more wear and tear. Though soft and malleable, pure silver is reasonably resistant to corrosion and tarnishing. Most commonly used quality stamp for this type of silver is 999 FS or .999. Pure silver is also hypoallergenic that means that it causes no allergic reactions.
Sterling .925 Silver:
You would have heard a lot about sterling .925 silver. This is the most common type of silver. In United States and most of the jewelry markets of Europe, it is considered as the quality standard for jewelry. As its name suggests, it is composed of 92.5% pure silver and remaining 7.5% is an alloy of other metals including copper. This is the reason it is harder than the pure silver but still not that much harder as compared to various other alloys of silver.
Sterling silver can tarnish easily if not properly cared, though it is shiny and lustrous in appearance. Tarnish usually occurs due to the presence of copper in the alloy as it darkens the appearance of sterling silver when it oxidizes. This tarnish however, can easily be removed using various cleaners and polishing products. There are also many home remedies to remove such tarnish. Read our article HERE to know all the effective methods that are sure to bring your lost sparkle of silver jewelry.
If nickel contents are not present in the alloy of sterling silver, then it is hypoallergenic. Rhodium plating is usually done on sterling silver to add some extra glitter and sturdiness.
Most commonly used quality stamp for this type of silver is .925 or .925 STG.
Argentium Silver Jewelry:
Argentium silver is being developed to minimize the need for frequent polishing as it has superior tarnish resistance. It can be considered to be low maintenance silver. Argentium silver passes all the famous quality standard tests while on the other hand, sterling silver fails such tests. Argentium is a naturally beautiful precious metal whiter and brighter than platinum, rhodium, palladium and white gold. It is also significantly brighter than the traditional sterling silver.
With the silver content of 93.5%, argentium silver is always purer than the traditional sterling silver. It consists of 93.5% pure silver and the remaining 6.5% consists of alloys of copper and germanium. Germanium adds strength to the alloy which makis it difficult to tarnish. Flying unicorn stamp represents the authenticity of argentium items. Argentium silver is expensive than the traditional sterling silver.
Argentium silver is free from nickel which makes it hypoallergenic.
Nickel Silver Jewelry:
Nickel silver, commonly known as German silver is not actually silver at all. Don’t get confused by the name as the word “silver” only represents the color and not the composition. Therefore, Nickel silver contains no silver in its composition.
In appearance, nickel silver is very close to sterling silver, though it is not an alloy of silver. It is composed of 60% copper, 20%nickel and 20% zinc. It is mostly used in costume jewelry as it is very easy to shape it and further craft it into desired designs. Due to the presence of nickel metal in the alloy, nickel silver jewelry is not hypoallergenic. Therefore, people who are sensitive to metal allergies should avoid contact with it.
Before sterling silver was introduced in the market, coin silver used to be the most commonly used silver alloy in the US market. The name might baffle you, but coin silver contains 90% pure silver in its composition. One might think that this silver is used for making the coins but in reality, it got its name due to the fact that coin silver was made by recycling old coins that contained actual silver in them. Coin silver jewelry has a quality stamp of .900. Nowadays, it is very difficult to find coin silver in the markets.
Silver Filled Jewelry:
Silver filled jewelry was introduced in the market in recent years due to the escalation of silver prices during the era of recession. Silver filled jewelry is made by bonding 5 or 10 percent silver on the base metal such as brass by applying heat and pressure. This cannot be considered as an alloy because metal is not exactly same throughout the material. As its recent emergence in the market, this type of silver is not standardized in the US markets. You can consider it as a thicker layer of silver bonded on any base metal.
Due to average quality, this type of silver tarnishes easily. It is difficult to maintain but on the other hand, it is not as expensive as sterling silver. Moreover, silver filled jewelry is not hypoallergenic.
Silver Plated Jewelry:
Silver plating of any base metal is done and a thin layer of silver is coated over a base metal. Silver content used for plating the base metal is extremely small. That is why this type of jewelry tarnishes very easily. Mostly it is used as a costume jewelry. If not cared properly, the top coating of silver tarnishes and even removes, exposing the base metal beneath which looks ugly. As the silver content in such jewelry is minimal, you can avail such jewelry items in extremely affordable prices. This type of jewelry is also not hypoallergenic.
Tibetan or Tribal Silver Jewelry:
Tibetan or tribal silver jewelry also may not contain any silver, just similar to the nickel silver. It is composed of base metal alloys that make it look like real silver jewelry but in reality, there are almost no traces of silver present in it. Some tribal jewelry pieces also have varying amounts of silver present in them. This type of jewelry may also contain harmful metals such as lead as they come from distant lands where rules and regulations are very different, therefore one has to be cautious while buying it. It is also advised to keep this type of jewelry away from the reach of children due to the presence of harmful metals.
We hope that after reading this article, all the queries would have been wiped away from your mind. Look for the relative stamps while purchasing jewelry products. Avoid products that contain nickel element as it may cause allergies. Always give priority to credible stores. Happy shopping!
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