Silver Jewelry 101: How to tell Fine Silver, Sterling Silver and Silver Plate Apart?

Silver jewelry, coins, flatware, keepsakes and ornaments have always been praised and valued. A precious metal itself, silver is known for its natural luster and shine. Owing to its ability to be mold easily and the brilliant sparkle it possess, silver is one of the most sought-after metals when it comes to jewelry making. However, there are various varieties of silver available in the market these days. Sterling silver, fine silver and the silver plate are the massively popular ones. If you intend to purchase any silver item, it is significant to know the difference in all variations of silver.

Here is an easy guide that will educate you about different silver variants available for sale in market these days:

Sterling Silver Facts

If you are a jewelry lover, you must have read or heard the term ‘sterling silver’ been thrown quite often by jewelry makers or sellers. It is important to note sterling silver is not a 100% silver metal, even though it possess almost the same luster and sheen. A sterling silver item is almost 92.5% silver and 7.5% of any other metal. Usually copper is used as an alloy with silver to turn silver into a more solid and stable metal. Because of this alloy, sterling silver does not tarnish as quick as pure silver, thus makes an ideal choice for jewelry and silverware. Sterling silver is very close to pure silver, but you can always identify it with a number 925 stamp on the piece. It is a brilliant cost-effective option for anyone looking to have a silver-luster without over spending.

Fine Silver Facts

Pure silver is commonly known as fine silver and is the most expensive silver variant among all discussed here. A fine silver piece consists of 99% pure natural silver metal and contains no alloy or metal. Fine silver is usually very soft and its sheen is far more superior to sterling silver. Pure silver is usually very hard to handle since it is very soft and only very skilled pros can handle it, this adds up to the cost of fine silver items as well. Usually, it is used in the making of very fine and exquisite jewelry pieces or ornaments. The pieces made with fine silver tarnish quickly with prolonged exposure to air, making them quite high maintenance. But if you have a flare for nicer things, getting fine silver would be totally worth it. Fine silver is sometimes used to decorate other metal items as well due to its light weight and softness.

Facts About Silver Plate

The least expensive variant of silver is known as silver plate in the market. Silverplating is basically a process during which a thin silver layer is added on an electrically charged base material. Silver plating is quite popular for making silverware and interior décor items. It is not only economic but also much more durable and long lasting. A silver plate item looks just like a pure silver item but does not possess the same precious value, it is more of a use-value than anything else.

Five sterling silver stacking rings by Misluo


Important Points to Consider Before Buying Silver

  • Price Tag

The items made up of fine silver or sterling silver will come with a higher if not hefty price tag since they contain a higher percentage of silver. Also, the items made of these two silver variants will retain their value over time, so it is a good investment. Silver plate, on contrary will cost a lot less and will not come with any sort of value that a pure silver piece will contain.

  • Weight

Even though cheaper than its variants, silver plated items will always be heavier. Silver is lighter in weight naturally, this is why pure silver and sterling silver items would also be lighter. However, silver plating is done on a metal base, so metal base would add weight to the item.

  • Look for the Stamps

For a quick and easy way of identifying the type of silver your item is made up of, look for stamps. Fine silver items always have numbers 99.9 or the letters FS stamped on them. Similarly, sterling silver items have 925 or ‘sterling’ imprinted on them.

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