What Different Types of Silver Are Used in Jewelry Today?
Photo by Ali Pazani
Jewelry manufacturers are using many different types of silver to craft jewelry today. Here are the most common grades of silver being used today.
While gold has long been hailed as the rarest and most valuable metal, silver is in fact rarer.
Aboveground, there is 5 to 7 times more gold waiting to be mined than there is silver! This is only one reason why silver is the superior option when purchasing jewelry- it’s also durable, beautiful, and goes with basically any wardrobe item.
However, in order to get the most out of your silver piece, you’ll need to learn about the types of silver that you have to choose from and select the right one for your needs. Here, we’re going to talk about the many silver grades that you can purchase jewelry in so that you can make a more informed decision!
Fine .999 Silver
The element of pure silver is never used in jewelry, so 99.9% silver is the closest that you’re going to get.
The other 0.1% of this metal is made from insignificant amounts of trace elements. Because it contains no other alloys, fine silver isn’t as bright as other varieties used in jewelry. Instead, it has more of a dull luster. This is beautiful in its own way, but it also is a visual expression of the metal’s softness.
Fine silver is extremely soft, which means that your pieces will dent and scratch a lot even if you take care of them well. If you plan to wear your necklace or bracelet every day, you’ll want to go with a harder and more durable option. Rings absolutely never should be purchased in fine silver because you use your hands pretty much constantly.
However, some people still choose to get earrings or necklaces made from fine silver because they value purity and rarity.
The most common type of silver jewelry is sterling silver. It’s made of 92.5% silver, so it’s only slightly less pure than fine silver is. The rest of it is made from copper alloy.
The purpose of this alloy is to increase the hardness of the metal, a job that is done very efficiently. Sterling silver products are ideal because they’re incredibly durable and don’t have the same problems with denting and scratching as .999 silver. Sterling silver also is shiny and bright, which is an attractive alternative to duller fine silver.
Sterling silver rings are significantly more durable than fine silver ones, and he can last a lifetime. This makes it an ideal metal for engagement rings as well as gifts for yourself when you want to show yourself a little love. You can also get bracelets, necklaces, and earrings made from this alloy, and the man in your life can enjoy sterling watches, tie pins, and pendants that go with your jewelry.
Argentium silver hasn’t been used in jewelry for that long, but as of 2020 it’s one of the most popular alternatives to sterling silver. Sterling silver can last for many decades, but after a while, it’s going to tarnish. This is inevitable. Argentium silver was created specifically to fight against tarnishing.
Argentium silver is usually made from 93.5% pure silver, but some pieces are made from 96%. The remainder is made up of other alloys, the most notable of which is germanium. Germanium makes the silver more durable and gives it a higher melting point, which combats tarnishing caused by excessive exposure to light.
While an attractive alternative to sterling silver, Argentium silver is more expensive and is difficult to find. It also looks just like sterling silver that’s already made to last a long time, so many people don’t see the point to Argentium. After all, you can combat sterling silver tarnishing simply by using polishes and specialized cleaners on your pieces frequently!
Silver Plated Jewelry
Silver-plated jewelry is an affordable and easy-to-obtain alternative to other silver varieties. This is because there’s only a small amount of silver in the jewelry. Most of it is made from base metals like copper and nickel, which means that it doesn’t have much value.
Generally, silver-plated pieces are used as costume jewelry. You can also get a silver-plated necklace or pair of earrings if you’re okay with it having a very short lifespan. It’s going to tarnish very quickly and the plating will wear off to expose the alloys underneath, which needless to say isn’t a good look.
While coin silver used to be more common in the US than sterling silver, it’s becoming increasingly rare. Made from 90% silver and 10% copper, it’s slightly less pure than its sterling or Argentium counterparts.
It makes sense to assume that coin silver is what coins are made from. However, this isn’t the case- the name was given to this alloy because it was once made from refined scrap coins. Since money is no longer made from silver by rather base metals like copper and nickel, coin silver now needs to be made as purposefully as other types are.
If you ever find a piece of jewelry made from ‘nickel silver,’ make sure that you aren’t fooled by the name. Nickel silver isn’t silver at all- it describes the color of the piece rather than the metal it’s made from. Pieces made from nickel silver are actually made up of base metals like copper, nickel, and zinc.
It’s really inexpensive and looks similar to sterling silver, but it’s a low-quality metal. You don’t want to be tricked out of your money, so make sure that you’re aware of this!
That being said, nickel silver does have its uses. It’s great for up-and-coming jewelers to practice their craft on. It also can be used to create some costume jewelry pieces, though make sure that you’re careful before buying it since lots of people have nickel allergies.
Get Jewelry in All Types of Silver
There are a lot of ways to express yourself through jewelry, but silver pieces are some of the most beautiful, durable, and long-lasting.
Now that you know the types of silver that re commonly found in jewelry, it’s time to learn how to look amazing while boasting some! Check out the ‘fashion’ tab on our home page for some tips on how you can wear gorgeous silver pieces with your favorite outfits.