If you’ve ever bought jewellery, you’ve probably seen the term ‘sterling silver’. So much of the silver jewellery you buy and already own is crafted from sterling silver, and it does get a little confusing because these pieces are so commonly referred to as plain and simple ‘silver’. So, is there a difference between silver and sterling silver?

We can tell you right away that sterling silver and pure silver are not the same. There are a few key differences between the two luminous materials that set them apart, not just in appearance but in use. 

Pure silver by itself is striking and beautiful, but simply too soft for practical use in jewellery. Generally, this remarkable metal is used in electrical appliances as a conductor and even as an important antimicrobial component of medicine! And of course, pure silver is used to create sterling silver, so that it can be worked into the stunning silver bangles, rings and bracelets you see today.


Is There A Difference Between Silver And Sterling Silver?

Yes, there is a difference between silver and sterling silver! Sterling silver is an alloy - meaning that it’s made up of one or more pure metals. To be specific, sterling silver is made from 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other metals like copper or zinc. The addition of these other metals adds some much-needed strength to the composition of silver.

If pure silver alone was used in jewellery like rings or bangles, your silver pieces would be covered in scratches and dents. And while metals like copper strengthen silver enough for it to be worn every day, you really won’t lose much of that silver colour. In terms of appearance, sterling silver can be a little bit darker than pure silver, though it still keeps that pristine, light look.

Sterling silver can also be mixed or plated with other metals like rhodium to prevent tarnishing. Pure silver will tarnish on its own, but metals like copper can speed up this darkening process. The way rhodium plating keeps silver shiny for longer is just more proof that sterling silver is the perfect alloy for jewellery.

How Can You Tell if Your Jewellery is Sterling Silver?

The chances of your silver jewellery being sterling silver is very high. Because it’s so practical and so close to pure silver in look and silver content, sterling silver is a first choice for most jewellery makers. 

What’s great for us, is that jewellery makers will put small hallmarks or engraving on each silver piece. These hallmarks can tell us who made the piece, but also exactly what it was made out of. If you have a silver ring, take it off and inspect the inner part of the band that you don’t see when it’s worn. Does it say ‘925’ or ‘92.5’? These markings tell you the silver content in the jewellery piece — 92.5% silver, which means it’s made from sterling silver. 

You might also see more straightforward markings, like ‘ster’, ‘sterling’ or ‘SS’, all of which will tell you your piece is made from sterling silver.

Most silver jewellery you buy should be clearly labelled with sterling silver in its packaging or name. After all — there’s really nothing negative about using sterling silver.

Hopefully, you now know the answer to “is there a difference between silver and sterling silver?”. So next time you hear or read the term ‘silver jewellery’, you can be almost certain that it really means sterling silver jewellery. Sterling silver is a mainstay of the jewellery industry and is truly the best way to wear silver. At Silver Chic, we have a range of stunning jewellery pieces, from silver necklaces and silver chains to silver kids jewellery! Shop online today and get free shipping over $69.

Is there a difference between silver and sterling silver? More FAQs 

Does Sterling Silver Tarnish?

Yes, sterling silver is prone to tarnishing – but so is pure silver! In saying that, there are a number of ways you can prevent and remove tarnish from your silver jewellery.

Learn more: can tarnished silver be restored?

Which Is More Expensive, Silver Or Sterling Silver?

Because of its purity, pure silver is more expensive compared to sterling silver. But many of us wear our silver jewellery daily, and without the added structure and strength of other metals like copper and zinc, you would quickly find obvious wear on your jewellery pieces. 

Sterling silver makes wearing silver easy. You might have to clean it occasionally, but with a bit of care, you’ll get by wearing the shiny alloy every day without trouble. Just avoid contact with other hard metals or surfaces that could cause some scratching and you’ll be fine. 

If you want silver, then you should wear sterling silver. Even the most luxurious silver jewellery is made from sterling silver for its durability and beauty. Because this precious metal is so versatile and affordable there’s always something out there for you. 

Is Sterling Silver Real Silver?

Sterling silver is made up almost entirely of silver and isn’t in any way a compromise. So while they aren’t technically the same, sterling silver is in many ways the same as silver.

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