Sterling Silver is an alloy comprising 92.5% pure Silver with 7.5% other metals, usually copper

Sterling Silver 

Sterling Silver is often referred to as 'Standard Silver' and indeed by many as just 'Silver'. Unfortunately there are often misinterpretations and indeed misuses of the word 'silver', and because of the confusion over the use of the word some of these misuses are intentionally used to deceive purchasers into thinking they are buying the genuine article whereas in fact they are not. There are a number of metals that imitate the appearance of Sterling Silver (German Silver, Nickel Silver, Alpacca Silver and others) however do not have the value of Sterling Silver. See this article Telling Sterling Silver from Look Alikes for more information.

Uses of Sterling Silver

The most common use for Sterling Silver these days is in the making of jewellery. Its other uses include cutlery and a range of Silverware including utensils, serving plates or trays and bowls, pitchers and other tableware also collectively referred to as 'flatware'. Additionally also for items such as letter openers, jewellery boxes, cigarette cases, candlestick holders and a manner of various ornamental items, much of which today is made from cheaper look alike materials like Nickel Silver which actually doesn't contain any silver at all.

Sterling Silver Jewellery

Sterling Silver is commonly used in the making of fine jewellery and is classed as a precious metal alloy whilst Pure Silver is a precious metal. As Sterling Silver is defined as being 92.5% pure silver (balance usually copper) or 925 parts Silver per 1000 it is often referred to in jewellery terms as '925 Silver' and is normally stamped .925 or 925. This stamping is not a true 'Hallmark' as many may believe - read this article for details about Sterling Silver Hallmarks

The problem facing many buyers of Sterling Silver today, particularly jewellery and even moreso if buying jewellery online, is that most buyers are not able to discern the difference between genuine Sterling Silver and simply 'silver plated'. Most silver plated jewellery is Costume or Fashion jewellery whereas Sterling Silver jewellery is classed as fine jewellery.

Unfortunately many people who are led to believe they are buying Sterling Silver jewellery are in fact getting mere silver plated costume jewellery. The fact that an item of jewellery may be stamped 925 or .925 does not guarantee that it is genuine sterling silver - there is a significant amount of deception by many jewellery manufacturers that are stamping silver plated items with 925. This makes it even harder for the purchaser to be sure of what they are buying. There is even a trend by some jewellery manufacturers to just coat costume jewellery with sterling silver and sell it as genuine 925 silver. So if buying Sterling Silver Jewellery for a special occasion like a birthday or mothers day then be careful.

Aside from taking the word of the seller how can the average person not trained as a jeweller or silversmith actually tell the difference between real Sterling Silver and just silver plated? read more about this here in our Sterling Silver Jewellery article.

History of Sterling Silver

The use of Sterling Silver dates back to the 12th Century when it began to be used in commerce and was even used in currency with Sterling Silver coins appearing in Colonial America in the mid 17th Century - read this article here for more about the History of Sterling Silver.

Silver in itself has been used for thousands of years for ornaments and utensils, trade, and as the basis for many monetary systems. Its value as a precious metal was long considered second only to gold.


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