There are many different names for silver jewellery on the market today. So, what are all these types of silver and what do they mean?
This article will educate you so you understand what the different terminologies are when you are buying silver jewellery or silver articles.
What is silver?
Silver is a metal which has been used for hundreds of years. Silver is mined from many countries but the biggest producers are Mexico, Peru and Australia. It in its pure form, is normally considered too soft for everyday use. Therefore, other metals are added to the pure silver such as cooper.
The different types of “Silver”
Sterling silver is the main type of silver used in jewellery, ornaments & dinnerware today. This is solid silver. Sterling silver is a mixture of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% metal alloy. It is hallmarked as “925”.
Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver and is normally considered too soft to use for most items. It is also solid silver.
Silver plating is common and sometimes dishonest sellers try to pass this off as sterling silver. It’s also call electroplated silver or silver coated as well. Silver plated items are made using a base metal, normally brass or nickel, which is then put through an electroplating process. Electroplating is a process which adheres a very very thin layer of pure silver onto the base metal.
The result is looking item at a much reduced price. It may look like sterling silver but the silver plating tends to wear off quite quickly exposing the less than beautiful base metal.
Alpaca Silver or German Silver is not actually silver at all. It is a greyish looking alloy which resembles silver. It is sometimes referred to as nickel silver, paktong, and new silver. It is also used as a base for silver plated items because of its appearance. If you want real silver, stay away from this. Also, beware of sellers selling this as “fine jewellery” to consumers that don’t know the difference between sterling silver and alpaca silver.
Mexican Silver is silver is used to describe silver made in Mexico. It must have more than 90% pure silver content to be Mexican silver. Most silver jewellery from Mexico today is actually sterling silver.
Britannia Silver has a pure silver content of 95.85% and no more than 4.16% copper. This silver is marked in the U.K. and Ireland as “958 silver.” It is an even more pure form of silver than sterling silver. Hence it’s higher valuer.
Antiquing of Sterling Silver Jewellery
Antiquing is very common in the silver industry today and is the practice of applying a finishing process to sterling silver to give the item an appearance of age. As well as giving the item an appearance of age, it also helps to produce a contrast which makes the details of intricate designs stand out better.
There are many other guides at our online jewellery store Australia.