Types of Silver

Types of Silver

There are many different types of silver used in the jewelry industry. Below are the ones you should know about. Silver being used in jewelry making are usually alloy. This means that the silver is combined with other elements or metals. 

Silver types according to Quality Stamp:

Fine Silver (.999) Fine silver is the closest to pure silver. It is stamped .999 which indicates 99.9% with 0.1% trace elements. Fine silver is not common in the market because of its characteristics. It is dull in color, soft, easily dents, and can alter shape very easy. Jewelry pieces made of fine silver are usually earrings and necklaces.

Sterling Silver (.925) Sterling silver is the standard in quality jewelry. It is stamped .925 which means 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper. Other elements can be used to combine with silver other than copper. These metals mixed with silver alter its characteristics making it durable and adds luster to the silver. Sterling silver is harder than fine silver.

Brittania Silver (.958) Used in jewelry and silverware. It is stamped at .958 which means 95.8% silver with 4.2% copper. It has almost the same qualities as sterling silver only with higher percentage of silver content. Brittania Silver was first introduced in England to replace the use of sterling silver as part of the great recoinage scheme of William III. Brittania silver is significantly softer than sterling silver. After complaints were made from the trade, sterling silver regained its authority for use by silversmiths on June 1st 1720.

Non-Tarnish Alloys Non-tarnish alloys contain at least 92.5% silver. Other non tarnish alloys have higher silver content. The remaining percentage consist of other metals such as germanium. The addition of germanium in the alloy makes the silver harder and more resistant to tarnish. Non-tarnish alloys costs higher than sterling and are not always available.

Coin Silver Coin silver is .900 silver which means 90% silver with 10% copper. This type of silver was not used to make coins but were made from scrap coins. Note that in the US or other countries, monetary coins no longer use silver. Instead, they are now made of durable base metals that are less expensive. Coin silver jewelry that still exists has a quality stamp of .900. They are rare and usually in the line of collector’s item and antiques.

Silver Types of Low Quality:

Silver Filled. Silver-filled is not an alloy but a layered metal. Silver filled could be 5-10% sterling silver, combined with heat. The silver layer in silver-filled metals are thicker compared to silver plated. This type of silver has low quality compared to other silver alloys.  

Tibetan/Tribal Silver. Tibetan / tribal silver looks like silver but is actually made of metal alloys. Some jewelry of this kind may sometimes be dangerous because of lead content.  

Nickel Silver. Nickel silver is an imitation of genuine silver. They are called nickel silver only because it is silverish in color. This type of silver is made of metal alloy comprising of copper, zinc, or nickel.

Silver Plated. Silver plated as its name implies is base metal jewelry plated with a small lining of silver that eventually wears off through time. These products make cheap jewelry that are only good while the plating lasts.