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Is It Really Silver?

One of the comments I hear often when selling my jewelry, is ‘Is it really silver?’ I believe the reason for this is that for the most part, silver is not an expensive metal when compared to gold or platinum.

When I make jewelry from silver, I price it according to what I feel is a fair price for my creativity, time, and materials. This results in very reasonable prices. So much so, that sometimes people question the authenticity of the materials. This questioning is understandable given the fact that there are other items of jewelry available that are ‘silver’ but not sterling silver.

This brings us to a brief definition guide of the types of silver available.

Sterling Silver: The word “Sterling” represents the best known and most respected quality marking in use today. This is the most common form of silver used in fine jewelry. It consists of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% pure copper. The reason for adding the 7.5% copper, is to give the silver the strength and wearing quality it should have to hold up as a piece of jewelry.

There is something fascinatingly beautiful about sterling silver, which improves with age and use. No other metal or alloy has ever been found which duplicates its color and luster.

Sterling Silver stands alone in quality, prestige, intrinsic value and beauty.

Fine Silver: This is a very pure form of Silver (99.9% pure). Fine Silver is sometimes used in jewelry to take advantage of it’s soft and malleable characteristics. The most common use is a bezel. Bezel is usually the part in jewelry that holds the stones in place. Being softer than Sterling Silver, Fine Silver Bezel can be easily shaped and burnished to conform to the shape of the stone being set.

Silver: This is the term most often used in the jewelry industry to indicate Sterling Silver. The reason for this is that Sterling Silver is the most common form of silver used in fine jewelry. Thus, it has become commonplace to refer to Sterling Silver as Silver.

German Silver: The composition of this alloy is 65% Copper, 23% Zinc, and 12% Nickel. This yellow white alloy is often used for decorative purposed and for optical frames (glasses) and is highly corrosion resistant.

Nickel Silver: The composition of this particular nickel alloy is 65% Copper, 18% Nickel, and 17% Zinc. This is a very popular nickel alloy with a pleasant silvery blue white color. It is the most popular alloy used for costume jewelry and as a base for silver plated items.

Coin Silver: As the term is used in the USA is made up of 90% Silver and 10% other metals. This was the standard for silver coins in the US but is no longer used for this purpose today. The term remains, however, and this alloy is still occasionally used in jewelry.

The old U.S. Nickel coin, by the way, was made not of pure nickel as we would think but 25% nickel and 75% copper.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and perhaps learned something new.

Until next time,

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~ Is it really Silver? ~ by Isidro Nilsson ~

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