If you are someone who loves wearing and collecting silver jewelry, it is important to know how to tell apart between silver plated jewelry, pure silver jewelry and real sterling silver jewelry. When you are buying jewelry, it can be rather easy to mistaken one for the other and you might end up buying low quality jewelry instead.
What is Sterling Silver Jewelry?
Sterling silver is made up of 92.5% of pure silver and 7.5% of alloy. The most common alloy used in producing sterling silver jewelry are nickel and copper. Thanks to the addition of copper alloy, these are what makes sterling silver jewelry more durable and resistant to discoloration and oxidation.
If you’d like to know more about how to tell apart silver and sterling silver, you can read this guide here 👇
What is Silver Plated Jewelry?
Silver plated jewelry is jewelry that has gone through a process known as “silver plating”. Silver plating happens when you apply a layer of pure silver or sterling silver over the surface of a base metal (such as copper, nickel and even brass).
To ensure that the silver particles are attracted to the base metal, it must first be electrically charged. As a result, the plated jewelry will be coated in an ultra thin film of silver, giving it the impression of fine silver jewelry.
Now that we have covered the basics, here are 6 ways you can learn to tell apart sterling silver jewelry and silver plated jewelry:
1. The Composition
There is a large difference between silver plated jewelry and sterling silver jewelry in terms of their composition.
Silver plated jewelry is actually made of other base materials, such as copper, brass, or even nickel, that is coated with a thin layer of silver.
Sterling silver jewelry on the other hand, is made up of 92.5% fine silver with a small fraction of copper alloy.
2. The Identification
Silver plated jewelry and sterling silver jewelry tend to look similar to one another, especially for the untrained eye. However, you can easily tell them apart by looking at the quality stamp and label.
For silver plated jewelry, they are generally labeled with “EP,” “EPNS,” and even “Silver on Copper.” It is important to note that manufacturers are not allowed to label silver plated jewelry as “sterling,” this is why the term “sterling silver plated” does not exist.
For sterling silver jewelry, you would often find sterling silver jewelry being stamped with “925”, “92.5”, “Ster” and even “.925”, symbolizing its 92.5% pure silver content.
3. Appearance and Weight
In terms of appearances, silver plated jewelry often has a bright and shimmery finish that resembles pure silver. However silver plated jewelry has a lighter weight as compared to 925 sterling silver. On the other hand, 925 sterling silver jewelry tends to weigh less than silver plated jewelry.
For example, if you put a silver-plated ring and a sterling silver ring of the same size and shape side by side, you will notice that the sterling silver ring is much lighter. This is because the base material used in silver plated jewelry is typically heavier than pure silver and sterling silver.
4. The Price & Value
Silver plated jewelry tends to be more affordable and does not have pure silver value. This means that over time, silver plated jewelry will have very few resale value. Because the coating of silver in silver plated jewelry is so thin, refining it to recover the silver appears to be a pointless effort. Silver plate jewelry is thought to be the most cost-effective alternative to more expensive pure silver jewelry.
On the contrary, sterling silver jewelry preserves its worth over time due to its high pure silver content. This is also one of the reasons why sterling silver is so expensive. Because sterling silver can be melted down and remolded, it is therefore more valuable than silver plated jewelry.
5. The Durability
When it comes to durability, silver plated jewelry is generally more durable than pure silver and 925 silver as they are made of a sturdier base material like brass and copper. If taken proper care, silver plated jewelry can last for a long time. Unfortunately, the silver plating does eventually wear off if you don’t store and treat them properly, especially if they are exposed to water.
Unlike pure silver that is softer than other metals, sterling silver is significantly more durable thanks to its copper alloy. While oxidation does happen from time to time, you can easily clean your sterling silver jewelry with a jewelry cleaning cloth.
Both sterling silver and silver plated jewelry are prone to tarnish over time. However, the key difference is that sterling silver can be easily maintained and polished to look as good as new. You can read this guide on how to clean tarnished silver jewelry here:
Silver plated jewelry, however, is more challenging to clean. Once the thin layer of silver coating rubs off, this will cause the base metal to tarnish faster. Silver plated jewelry can also cause skin discoloration on your skin and leave behind a green tint.
To learn more about why silver jewelry tarnishes, you can read these 2 articles on understanding what jewelry tarnishes and how you can prevent the tarnishing.
Now that you have learned all about the key differences between silver plated jewelry and sterling silver jewelry, we hope that this guide will help you better distinguish 925 sterling silver in the future. If you’re looking for stylish new jewelry for your collection, Eleganzia Jewelry provides a range of 925 sterling silver jewelry that might suit your interest.