What Is the Difference Between Sterling Silver and Pure Silver?

While shopping for the latest designer jewellery, you will often come across the terms “Pure Silver” and “Sterling Silver.” Because of the common word “Silver,” some people think both are the same. But that is not always true. This article will help you understand the differences between sterling silver and pure silver.

Pure Silver

Pure silver has one more name - fine silver. The actual proportion of silver in pure silver is 99.9% and because of this high purity, it is very soft. You cannot make jewellery with such gentle form of silver. So, jewellers mix it with other metals and make it hard enough so that it remains in the desired form.

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver, which actually is an alloy, is very common nowadays and it is made by adding copper or other metals to the pure silver. The resulting compound is less soft and more durable.

If you have noticed that sterling silver usually has a 92.5% purity, this means that the remaining 7.5% compound is copper or other metals (mostly zinc or nickel). The addition of these metals in the pure silver stabilizes the shape of your jewellery.

Sterling Silver, Pure Silver, and Plating

Pure silver, as you know, is the purest form of silver and it doesn’t need any kind of plating. However, items made up of sterling silver have a thin plating of pure silver. This gives extra shine to these pieces.

Sometimes you may come across few items with the marking - sterling silver plated. It simply means that the jewellery piece is made of copper, nickel or any other metal; but not silver. These pieces are plated with a thin coating of sterling silver and it wears off in a few weeks to months.

Sterling Silver, Pure Silver, and Tarnishing

Talking about tarnishing, items or jewellery pieces made of sterling silver are more susceptible to tarnishing whereas pure silver is less prone to it. The additional metals used in sterling silver not only give it durability but also make it prone to tarnishing. This is because the nickel, copper, zinc, and other compounds present in sterling silver react with oxygen and other components of air.

The Difference on the Basis of Marks

Pure silver or fine silver has the marks like .999, 99.9 or 999, indicating the amount of silver present in per thousand or hundredth part of the item. On the other hand, jewellery or items made of sterling silver comes with a 92.5 mark.

In some countries, the sterling silver below 92.5% purity is not considered genuine sterling silver for jewellery pieces. So, while purchasing the sterling silver jewellery, pay attention to the mark stamped on it.

How to Test Silver?

Whether pure silver or sterling silver, you can do the acid test to know its purity. A tiny piece from your silver item is taken and put into the acid. If the colour of the acid changes, it means that your item contains silver with purity below 92.5%.

Now that you know why jewellery should be of sterling silver and not pure silver, it’s time to get the latest designs for you. So, don’t delay and visit the trendiest online store in the UK - Begna!