My Etsy Shop

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Silver, Schmilver--it's all the same, right?

Nope, but it sure can be confusing.

Here's a quick primer on what you'll find when shopping for jewelry:

Silver Plated:
Thin layer of silver plated onto a base metal (nickel, steel, brass or copper). Tarnishes easily, and the plating can wear off. Inexpensive--if someone is selling "silver" for a ridiculously low price, it's probably silver-plated, not sterling. You do get what you pay for. Fine for fun, occasional jewelry, but not for something you wear every day. Some people are more sensitive to silver-plated jewelry than sterling silver.

Sterling Silver:
Sterling Silver (92.5% silver alloyed with copper or another metal for strength). Tarnishes when exposed to air because of the alloys. Durable silver you can polish with a polishing cloth or your favorite polish.

Argentium Sterling Silver:

Sterling Silver (92.5% silver alloyed with germanium and other metals) that's tarnish resistant. When it does tarnish, it turns a golden color, not the black of traditional sterling. It is a bit more expensive than traditional sterling, but to me, it's definitely worth it. (I'll have more information on why tomorrow.) Many people sensitive to sterling silver can wear Argentium silver.

Fine Silver:

Pure Silver, usually too soft for making wearable items, but it used for making the bezels (ring) around stones. So, if someone is advertising their jewelry as “Pure Silver” it probably isn’t. They likely mean Sterling Silver.

I'll have more detailed information on silver tomorrow, so be sure to check back in.

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