If you learn the differences between silver, silver plated, and sterling silver jewelry it can make a difference to the types of jewelry you decide to purchase and it can help you determine if an item’s value is worth the purchase price.
Most often, price is a good indicator of what kind of silver a jewelry piece is composed of, but it isn't always reliable.
Even though they all sound similar, there are significant differences between silver plated items and sterling silver items.
Be sure to read carefully what the item is made up of so you will know what you are paying for and what you can expect in terms of wear and durability.
Pure Silver Jewelry
Pure silver will always contain trace amounts of other elements, even though it is 99.9% pure.
Pure silver does not make a very high quality jewelry item. It is extremely soft and therefore does not retain its’ shape very well.
Instead, look for sterling silver jewelry.
Sterling Silver Jewelry
Sterling silver contains another metal mixed in with the silver to give it increased strength and durability.
Sterling silver is a mixture made up 92.5% silver and 7.5% of an alloy such as zinc, nickel, or copper.
Sterling silver jewelry may be marked with 925, .925, or 92.5% somewhere on the piece.
It may tarnish over time, but it also has the benefit of being shinier than pure silver jewelry.
To keep this type of jewelry looking its best, keep it from getting wet and store it in a small, sealed plastic bag when it isn't being worn.
Silver Plated Jewelry
Silver plated jewelry means that the item is coated with a thin silver coating; however the materials used underneath the silver coating can vary greatly.
Silver plating is often used for cheap fashion jewelry that is made of steel or other poor quality metal.
Jewelry made with silver plated material often bends, stretches, and breaks, and the finish can wear off quickly.
When purchasing silver plated jewelry the key is to look for the thickness of the coating.
In general, the thicker the coating, the longer it will last so long as it is cared for properly.
Whenever you are looking for handmade jewelry, being educated about the differences between silver, silver plated, and sterling silver jewelry will allow you to make an informed decision about your purchase.
If you are looking for a fun every-day piece, silver plated jewelry is fine.
If you are looking for quality, however, look for well-constructed sterling silver items and wear them with confidence knowing that you are wearing an item that is durable and will stand the test of time.
At Beaded Embellishments, I use only sterling silver beads and findings in my handmade jewelry because I am committed to presenting quality jewelry.
My personal preference is for Sterling Silver Jewelry, what is yours?