Sterling Silver vs Silver: Which Jewelry Will Suit You Better?

Shopping for high-quality jewelry can be tricky, especially if you’re unsure about what all of the terminologies mean.

Many people don’t realize that there are very stark differences between sterling silver and silver. Knowing these differences can help you make an informed purchase or help you to care for the jewelry that you already have.

Read on to learn the benefits of sterling silver vs silver.

What Is Silver?

Fine silver is one of the seven metals that humans have been known to use since prehistoric times. It is a soft, malleable material most similar in composition to copper and gold.

Also called pure silver, its composition is made of 99.99% silver and only .1% trace elements.

Because pure silver is so soft, it’s often combined with other metals to reinforce it.

What Is Sterling Silver?

One way that pure silver is strengthened is by turning it into sterling silver. Sterling silver is made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other elements, usually copper, nickel, or zinc.

The added strength from other elements makes it much better for jewelry making and longevity.

How Do I Tell the Difference Between Sterling Silver vs Silver?

Strict standards are set in many places regarding the labeling of sterling silver vs silver. Fine, or pure silver, is stamped with a “999”.

Sterling silver is marked with a “925”, “STER”, “STERLING”, or “STG”.

Though this is the easiest way to differentiate between sterling silver vs silver, it’s not always possible.

In some countries, it’s not required to stamp silver or sterling silver jewelry. For unmarked jewelry, the least damaging way to establish whether your jewelry is silver or sterling silver is to use a magnet.

If the magnet joins flush to the jewelry, it’s most likely attracted to the added metals in sterling silver. Bear in mind that not all metals are magnetic, so this is not a definitive test.

What Are the Benefits of Sterling Silver vs Silver?

As far as jewelry goes, sterling silver is your best bet. Sterling silver is much more durable than fine silver and more resistant to dents and scratches. It’s also affordable.

One drawback, however, is that copper alloys in sterling silver may cause it to tarnish over time.

Silver, on the other hand, maintains its shine entirely. Fine silver is great for jewelry with less risk of wear, such as earrings and pendants. It is much pricer, though.

For the best of both worlds, you may use a real silver chain with a pure silver pendant.

Will Silver or Sterling Silver Cause Irritation?

For jewelry wearers with sensitive skin, certain metals can cause skin irritations. If this is a concern of yours, it’s best to purchase pure silver jewelry as opposed to sterling silver.

Nickel, one of the elements commonly mixed into sterling silver, is known to cause reactions in some people.

Things to Consider Before Buying

Now that you know the pros and cons of sterling silver vs silver, you can make an informed purchase. Silver is more expensive than sterling silver but will never lose its shine. Sterling silver may be more affordable, but it can cause irritation.

No matter which type you buy, make sure you’re purchasing from a reputable seller.

For more tips and tricks, check out our blog.