Are you planning to get your special someone’s silvery jewelry? Here are the different types of silver available on the jewelry market today.
Did you know that nickel silver doesn’t have a single bit of actual silver in its composition?
Most people tend to assume that anything that has ‘silver’ in its name means that it’s actually made of silver. Yet, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Pure silver is too soft for use in jewelry, as it can easily get damaged or bend out of shape. That’s why you’ll find that the main majority of silver types have different alloys to fortify silver and make it last.
The look, durability, and even color of different types of silver can range from the rather expensive to the pretty affordable. If you’re curious about what types of silver are out there on the market, keep on reading for the full breakdown.
Types of Silver: The Full Breakdown
Before we dive right into the lovely types of silver, it’s important to know a couple of industry facts.
First, a finished silver jewelry piece should have a quality stamp on it somewhere. This stamp will state the type of silver that this piece is made of. You don’t have to just take your jeweler’s word for it.
Moreover, the type of silver (as in the metal) used to make jewelry is an alloy. In the simplest of terms, an alloy is a mixture of two or more elements.
Therefore, if you’re assuming that the best quality silver jewelry out there has to be made of pure silver, you’d be wrong.
This takes us to the first type of silver on our list.
Fine .999 Silver
The three nines usually give it away. Yes, this is the type of silver that is closest to the pure silver element. The .999 number basically means that it’s 99.9% pure. The 0.1% stands for the trace of elements that aren’t pure silver.
As we discussed previously, pure silver is soft without other strengthening alloys in the mix. Therefore, you’ll rarely find a fine silver ring or bracelet. For earrings and necklaces, you’ll be able to find fine .999 silver pieces.
Yet, it’s essential to keep in mind that this type of silver doesn’t have a long lifespan. Moreover, check out the quality stamp of your pieces. The one for fine silver is .999 FS or just the numbers .999.
Sterling .925 Silver
If you’ve been wondering what is sterling silver exactly, we’ve got you.
Sterling silver is considered the main quality standard for silver in the majority of the global markets, including the United States and Europe.
Following the lead of fine silver, the .925 sterling silver means that it’s an alloy that’s made of 92.5% silver. The remaining 7.5% tends to be copper.
Furthermore, sterling silver is what most people identify as silver. It’s shiny, bright and a bit luminescent. Yet, it can tarnish.
You can keep your sterling silver from tarnishing by using cleaners and polishing products
However, that might just delay the process, not completely prevent tarnishing from happening. All you can do is make sure you send your silver to a trusted jeweler for clean up on a regular basis to keep it in great condition.
As for your sterling silver’s quality stamp, you’ll find a .925 or 925 STG to indicate its type.
Non-Tarnish Alloys and Argentium Silver
Fresh on the market is non-tarnish alloys, and king among them is Argentium silver.
Generally, non-tarnish alloys have a minimum of 92.5% silver, while the remaining alloys are copper and the element germanium.
What’s great about germanium is that it hardens the alloy, which protects it from bending or breaking, as well as working wonders to prevent tarnish. As it were, non-tarnish alloys usually need less maintenance than sterling.
However, the downside of using this element is the price factor. It’s pricier than sterling, and it’s also a pain to get your hands on.
In addition, it’s tricky to know the difference between Argentium and sterling silver when you’re buying a new piece. They both have the same quality stamp of .925.
Coin silver is a bit of a tricky one. Interestingly enough, it used to be the most common silver alloy in U.S. markets. However, now it’s becoming rather rare. Coin silver is made of .900 silver, which is 90% silver and 10% copper.
In addition, “coin silver” is a bit of a misleading name. It wasn’t actually used to make coins, rather it’s made out of refined scrap coins.
Of course, now we don’t see silver added to pennies, cents, and other monetary coins. These are made of cheaper (and more durable) base metals.
Yet, you’ll find some collectible coins with high silver content available for purchase. Just make sure that they come with certificates of authenticity attached.
Moreover, you’ll find that the coin silver jewelry quality stamps are .900.
There’s a reason why we put this type of silver between quotation marks. We hope that our skepticism is shining through.
You’ll find some jewelry on the market that’s being sold as “silver”, and no other identifiers.
More likely than not, jewelry pieces that are labeled just ‘silver’ don’t have a good quality silver alloy. In some cases, they aren’t made of silver at all, just a thin plated layer of silver brushed on a brass alloy.
You should always check for a quality stamp on your silver jewelry. For this type of silver, you probably won’t be able to find one.
The reason why nickel silver has ‘silver’ in the name has to do with its color, and nothing to do with the actual metal.
Nickel silver (also known as Alpaca or German silver) is made of a base metal alloy that’s copper mixed with nickel or zinc. While having a similar appearance to sterling silver, it contains no silver whatsoever.
Yet, it does have a couple of advantages. It’s inexpensive and soft, which makes it a great practice metal. In addition, it’s used in costume jewelry to great effect.
Ready to Get Some Silver and Shine?
Every once in a while, we chomp at the bits, looking for a beautiful piece of jewelry with exactly the right amount of sparkle and shine. However, not everyone knows how to differentiate between gold and fool’s gold.
Not anymore. Now you’re armed with the knowledge of what types of silver are on the market, as well as how to differentiate between them.
Yet, there is still so much more to learn about jewelry. Whether it’s the jewelry styles or the material they’re made of, our fashion section is full of ideas and tips on how to bring your wardrobe back to life.
Make sure to check it out for all the style advice you could possibly need.