When it comes to buying jewelry, you can never go wrong with silver. Malleable and beautiful, you can find silver jewelry in many shapes and forms. But with many types of silver jewelry available on the market, it is important to know about the different types of silver before you make any purchases.
For instance, not every silver jewelry you come across contains real silver alloy as they could be silver plated or may contain nickel content. This is why we will be looking into some of the different types of silver alloys used in jewelry making: -
Nickel silver is often known as German silver, Alpaca silver and Argentan silver. Despite its name, nickel silver does not contain any actual silver alloy at all. While nickel silver has a similar glossy sheen as silver, it is in fact a base metal alloy that combines copper with nickel and/or zinc.
Nickel silver is generally used in making fashion jewelry due to its incredible malleability and ability to craft into detailed designs. Unfortunately, nickel silver is not hypoallergenic and therefore not a suitable jewelry metal for those with sensitive skin or nickel allergy.
Tibetan Silver (Tribal Silver)
Tibetan silver is also known as Tribal silver. This type of jewelry metal is similar to nickel silver, they are both inexpensive jewelry with a silvery appearance over the base metal alloy. The alloy content within Tibetan silver may vary and may not even contain much silver.
Tibetan silver is beautiful when integrated into jewelry making, they have a Bohemian chic kind of style. However, this jewelry alloy may contain harmful and non-hypoallergenic metals such as lead. Therefore, you should be cautious when buying this type of jewelry and never give them to children.
Silver plating is a base metal being coated with a thin layer of silver plating on its surface. Silver plated jewelry is commonly found in producing fashion jewelry, and they are often plated over durable but lower quality and non-hypoallergenic jewelry metal (such as brass or copper).
While silver plated jewelry is more affordable, the downside is that the silver plating does wear off eventually and are more prone to tarnishing. You can read more about the difference between silver plated sterling silver and real sterling silver here:
Silver filled is a mix of sterling silver and silver plating. Silver filled jewelry is not an alloy but instead it’s a type of heavier layer of coating over the base metal. Unlike silver plating, silver filled contains at least 5 to 10% of silver alloy which is fused to the base metal. While silver filled jewelry is more affordable than sterling silver jewelry, they are considered rare to find and difficult to maintain since they tarnish easily.
Coin Silver (900 Silver)
Coin silver was once a commonly used silver alloy in jewelry making, but it is now considered rare. This alloy contains 90% of pure silver alloy and 10% copper alloy, and is often stamped with the “.900”, “Standard” or “Coin” hallmark. Despite its name, coin silver is not used for making coins. and is in fact used in making rare antiques and vintage silver jewelry instead.
Argentium silver is a brand new version of tarnish-resistant and more durable silver alloy. This type of alloy is available in 2 grades: 93.5% and 96% silver purity. This type of silver features germanium and copper alloy, which makes the metal more durable and easier to clean.
Argentium silver is commonly identified with the Argentium stamp and features a flying unicorn as its hallmark. While this type of silver jewelry is easier to maintain and nickel-free, it is more expensive than sterling silver and is prone to tarnish under certain conditions.
Sterling Silver (925 Silver)
Sterling silver (also known as 925 silver, Ster or .925 silver) is perhaps one of the most popularly used silver alloy in jewelry making. Sterling silver consists of 92.5% of pure silver and 7.5% of copper alloy.
Durable, strong and featuring a brilliant luster, sterling silver is an excellent metal choice when it comes to buying jewelry. While sterling silver is more durable than pure silver, it is still considered softer than other metals and is prone to scratching and denting.
There are actually a few ways for you to tell if something is made of genuine sterling silver. Read this guide here and learn how to tell if something is real sterling silver and fake 925 silver:
Pure silver (also known as fine silver or .999 silver) is the closest metal to the pure silver element with 99.9% purity and 0.1% of trace elements. Appearance-wise, pure silver has a duller surface as compared to the brilliant polished sterling silver. Pure silver is softer and prone to scratches. These are the reasons why fine silver jewelry is not as common as sterling silver since pure silver is less malleable.
One of the advantages of choosing pure silver jewelry is that they are highly resistant to tarnish and hypoallergenic jewelry. Due to its softness, pure silver is better suited for making earrings and necklaces instead of rings and bracelets. You can learn more about how to tell the difference between sterling silver and pure silver here.
So there you have it, now you know about the 8 most commonly used silver in jewelry making. Therefore, it is important to ask about the alloy and metal before buying anything from a reputable jewelry manufacturer. If you are someone with sensitive skin and metal allergies, you should go for hypoallergenic jewelry and avoid choosing nickel.