Types of Silver Used in Jewelry

Types of Silver Used in Jewelry

There are many types of silver available in the jewelry market today. most people heard of sterling silver and some know this is different from pure silver. But there are many other types of silver alloys used in jewelry making. So, it is important to understand that silver used in jewelry is usually an alloy. This means that it is mixed with a couple of other metals/elements from the periodic table.

All these types are used in jewelry, so knowing the difference can help you make informed choices when purchasing.

Most finished silver jewelry will have a quality stamp somewhere on the piece. This stamp is the quickest way to identify quality. These tiny markings may only be legible under magnification, and pieces are only required to bear a stamp when there are is sufficient surface area available. For that reason, many smaller pieces are unstamped even though they are quality alloys.

Here’s a quick rundown of the different types of silver used in jewelry.

  1. Fine .999 Silver Jewelry

Pros:

  • Purest Silver used in jewelry
  • Lustrous and White
  • Hypoallergenic

Cons:

  • Loses shape
  • Not durable

 

Fine silver is also known as pure silver, is the closest metal to the pure silver element. It’s made of 99.9% silver and .1% other elements. Fine silver appears duller compared to the bright polish of sterling. Fine silver is soft and will scratch, dent and change shape relatively easily. For these reasons, fine silver isn’t recommended in the use of jewelry, except in earrings and pendants or other low-impact areas.

Hallmark, or stamp, for fine silver, is .999 or .999FS. This metal is hypoallergenic as silver on its own causes no allergic reactions.

  1. Sterling .925 Silver Jewelry

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Workable and Wearable
  • Beautiful luster and shine
  • Typically hypoallergenic

Cons:

  • Easily Tarnishes
  • Harder to maintain

 . For example, jewelry can be scratched or dented if it is banged around. The most common mark for sterling silver is .925, .925 STG While vintage pieces often feature the older marks: STG, STERLING or STER.

Sterling Silver is typically hypoallergenic but can sometimes have trace amounts of nickel or other metals that can cause a reaction in rare cases.

  1. Argentium Silver Jewelry and Non-Tarnish Alloys

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Tarnish Resistant
  • Easy to Maintain

Cons:

  • More Expensive
  • Can tarnish under certain conditions

Non-tarnish alloys are relatively new to the market.

This is a 21st-century version of sterling silver alloy. While sterling silver contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper and Argentium silver contain 93.5% silver. In creating this type of silver, some of the copper from sterling silver is removed and metalloid germanium added. Germanium makes the alloy harder and more tarnish-resistant. Non-tarnish alloys can still tarnish under extreme conditions over an extended period of time, but they will normally require less maintenance than sterling. Argentium is significantly more expensive than sterling and less readily available. Because this is a brand, only authorized jewelers can use the Argentium stamp, which features a flying unicorn. Argentium silver is nickel-free and hypoallergenic but it also costs more than most other silver alloys.

  1. Coin silver Jewelry

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Rare
  • Good  Content

Cons:

  • Rare therefore hard to find
  • Tarnishes easily

In the past, this was the most commonly used silver alloy in the US but over time, sterling silver took over.

The quality stamp of coin silver is .900 and it contains 90% of silver, Which is 2.5% less than to sterling silver.  The remaining 10% is made up of copper. Regardless of the name, this type of silver is not used in making coins. It was named “coin silver” because it was made from refined scrap coins.  It’s a rare & antique alloy and you’ll be hard-pressed to find it.

  1. Nickel Silver Jewelry

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Good for costume jewelry
  • Workable
  • Durable

 

Cons:

  • It’s not Silver
  • Not hypoallergenic
  • Often sold as real Sterling silver

 

Nickel silver is also known as German silver. In this type, the term ‘silver’ describes the jewelry’s color and not the content. It is a base metal alloy that is comprised of copper mixed with nickel or zinc. It is an inexpensive base metal that is similar in appearance to sterling silver. It is easy to shape and craft into elaborate designs. However, it’s not hypoallergenic and should be avoided if you’re sensitive to metal allergies.

This alloy is also sold under many other names: German Silver, Alpaca Silver, and Argentan Silver.

 

  1. Tribal Silver Jewelry

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Beautiful designs

Cons:

  • Low durability
  • Not hypoallergenic
  • May not contain silver

 

Like to nickel silver, this type of silver does not contain any silver elements. This is also made from base metal alloys that make it look like real silver jewelry. Some imports from exotic areas contain dangerous metals such as lead; buyer beware. This jewelry should be purchased with caution and never given to children. Tribal pieces can be quite beautiful, so purchase for the value of the piece and design rather than the value of the material.

  1. Silver Filled Jewelry

Pros:

  • More silver than silver plating
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Tarnishes easily
  • Not hypoallergenic

Silver filled is not an alloy but rather a type of plating that contains a heavier layer of silver. It is made up of either 5% or 10% sterling silver by weight. It is difficult to maintain as it tarnishes easily. However, it’s less expensive than sterling silver and difficult to find it easily. There is no legally approved quality stamp standard for it yet.

  1. Silver Plated Jewelry

Pros:

  • Good for costume jewelry
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Not hypoallergenic
  • Very little silver used

 

Silver-plated jewelry is affordable and has an attractive look as well. It means that a very thin layer of silver plating applied to the surface. Silver-plated jewelry is usually shiny and durable and the amount of silver used in plating is so small that is almost negligible. It is not hypoallergenic and it doesn’t have a hallmark because it is just used on costume jewelry and has a short life.

 

Here’s you find types of silver used in jewelry & always remember some things before buying silver jewelry, Purchase jewelry from a reputable retailer and ask about the alloy. If you have metal allergies, avoid those that contain nickel.

 

 

 

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