Are you confused between sterling silver vs. silver-plated metal jewelry?
If yes, then you have landed at the right place. Been there, done that, shopping for my five sisters’ birthday or holiday gifts a gazillion times.
I will discuss with you everything you need to know about sterling silver vs. silver-plated metal, including their differences and similarities.
Is Silver Plated Real Silver?
Silver plating is a process of covering a base metal with a covering of silver to give it a shiny, silver appearance. It does not contain pure silver. Instead, it consists of a base metal coated with a fine layer of silver. Therefore, the item cannot be considered solid silver, it´s an alloy.
What is Pure Silver?
Pure silver, also known as fine silver, is made up of 99.9% silver and is too soft for most practical uses.
It is often alloyed with other metals such as copper to increase its durability. Sterling silver is one such alloy that is made up of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
Sterling Silver Hallmarks
Sterling silver is a popular metal used for making jewelry, silverware, and other decorative items. It is durable, has a lustrous appearance, and is known for its excellent craftsmanship.
Sterling silver is often marked with a hallmark that indicates its purity. The hallmark is usually located on the underside of the item and includes a maker’s mark, a purity mark, and an assay office mark.
Everything About Silver-Plated Metal
Silver-plated metal is a base metal coated with a thin layer of silver. The thickness of the silver layer can vary, but it is usually around 0.5 microns.
Silver plating can be done using various methods such as electroplating, electroless plating, and flash plating. Silver-plated metal is affordable, but it is not as durable as sterling silver.
Everything You Need to Know About Sterling Silver
Sterling silver is a popular metal used for making jewelry, silverware, and other decorative items. It is an alloy made up of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
Sterling silver is durable, has a lustrous appearance, and is known for its excellent craftsmanship. It is often marked with a hallmark that indicates its purity.
Silver-plated Metal Hallmarks
Silver-plated metal is not usually marked with a hallmark. However, some manufacturers may mark their products with the letters EPNS, which stands for electroplated nickel silver. This indicates that the item is made of a base metal coated with a layer of silver.
Unique Pieces of Sterling Silver vs Silver Plated Jewelry
When it comes to purchasing jewelry, many people want to own unique and special pieces. Sterling silver and silver plated jewelry can both be unique, but there is a significant difference in their value and quality.
Sterling silver is made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other metals, typically copper, while silver-plated jewelry is a base metal with a layer of silver electroplated over it.
Identifying Pewter and Other Base Metals from Sterling Silver and Silver Plated Jewelry
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between pewter
and other common metals from sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry, especially for the untrained eye.
However, there are several ways to distinguish between them. One is to use a strong magnet-tin lead and base metals are magnetic, while sterling silver and fine silver are not.
Another is to perform an acid test – the gray alloy of tin with copper, antimony and common metals will react to the acid, while sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry will not.
You can also use a magnifying glass to examine the piece – the bluish/silver gray and base metals typically have a grainy texture, while sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry have a smoother surface.
Finally, you can gently rub the jewelry with warm water and mild soap. Silver gray as it is also known by common metals will leave black or green residue, while sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry will not.
It’s important to note that while this shade of grey item and other non-noble metals may be cheaper than sterling silver, they may not have the same kind of resale value.
Sterling silver jewelry rings are a good quality metal that can be sold for a high resale price, while silver-plated jewelry may not hold its value as well.
Moreover, some people may be skin sensitive to certain common metals like gold or silver necklaces, while sterling silver and other metal mixes (alloy) are less likely to cause a reaction.
Types of Silver
There are several types of silver used for making jewelry and other decorative items. These include fine silver, sterling silver, coin silver, and silver plate.
Fine silver is the purest form of silver and is not commonly used for making jewelry due to its softness.
Sterling silver is the most popular type of silver used for making jewelry and silverware. Coin silver is made from melted-down coins and is not commonly used for making jewelry.
Silver plate is a non-noble metal coated with a sheet of silver and is not considered real silver.
How to Tell Silver-Plated and Sterling Silver Apart
It can be challenging to tell the key difference between silver-plated metal and sterling silver, but there are a few key distinctions to look for.
Sterling silver is often marked with a hallmark that indicates its purity, whereas silver-plated metal is not usually marked.
Sterling silver is also heavier and denser than silver-plated metal. If you scratch silver-plated metal, the base metal will show through, whereas scratching sterling silver will reveal a deeper shade of silver.
Key Distinctions between Sterling Silver and Silver-Plated
Sterling silver is made of 92.5% pure silver, while silver-plated items have a thin surface of silver over a base metal.
Sterling silver is more valuable and durable than silver-plated items, which can tarnish and wear off over time.
Sterling silver also has specific hallmarks indicating its purity, while silver-plated items do not.
Knowing these distinctions can help you determine the value and quality of silver items you come across.
Sterling Silver vs. Silver-Plated Jewelry: A Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to buying jewelry, it’s important to know the key differences between sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry.
Sterling silver is a high-quality material that will last a lifetime with proper care. On the other hand, silver-plated jewelry is made with base metal and coated with a very thin layer of silver.
This means that the silver film will eventually wear off, revealing the base metal underneath.
When buying jewelry, it’s important to pay attention to the type of metal used.
If you’re looking for a high-quality piece that will last years, sterling silver is the way to go. However, if you’re on a budget or looking for a temporary piece, silver-plated jewelry can be a great option.
Sterling silver vs. silver vs. silver-plated: Which Kind of silver is best for You?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on your budget and how long you want the jewelry to last.
Sterling silver is a higher-quality material than silver-plated and will last longer. However, it is also more expensive.
Silver-plated jewelry is a great option for those on a budget or looking for temporary jewelry. If you’re looking for a high-quality piece of jewelry that will last years, it’s worth investing in sterling silver.
Shop Sterling Silver Jewelry at Silpada
If you’re in the market for high-quality sterling silver jewelry, Silpada is a great place to start. Silpada offers a wide range of sterling silver jewelry, from earrings and necklaces to bracelets and rings.
All of Silpada’s jewelry is made with high-quality materials and is designed to last a lifetime with proper care, no wonder the billionaire Warren Buffet acquired the quality fashion brand back in 2016 (Source).
How do you know if the jewelry is real silver?
There are a few ways to tell if the jewelry is real silver. One way is to look for a hallmark (solid silver stamp) on the piece. Sterling silver items should have a hallmark of “.925” or “sterling” stamped on it.
Another way to test if the jewelry is real silver is to use a magnet test. Silver is not magnetic, so if the jewelry is attracted to the magnet, it is not a solid silver product.
Pros and Cons of Pure Silver
While pure silver is a beautiful and valuable metal, it does have its pros and cons. One of the main pros of fine silver is that it is a high-quality metal that will last a lifetime with proper care.
However, pure silver is also a soft metal, which means it can scratch and dent easily. Pure silver is also more expensive than other types of silver, such as sterling silver and silver-plated.
In addition, pure silver can tarnish over time, especially when exposed to air and moisture. This can be frustrating for those who want to wear their fine silver jewelry on a daily basis.
However, with proper care and storage, tarnishing can be minimized, unlike a fine silver plated precious metal which is great but may need more maintenance.
Sterling Silver vs Silver-Plated Conclusion
When it comes to buying silver jewelry, it’s important to understand the key differences between sterling silver and silver-plated.
Sterling silver is a high-quality material that will last a lifetime with proper care, while silver-plated jewelry is a more affordable option for temporary use.
By understanding the differences between these two types of silver, you can make an informed decision when buying jewelry.
No matter which type of silver you choose (from precious metal to plated silver), it’s important to take proper care of your jewelry to ensure that it lasts for years to come.
This includes storing it properly in your jewelry collection box, avoiding exposure to air and moisture, and cleaning it regularly.
With proper care, your silver jewelry will be a beautiful and valuable addition to your collection for years to come.