What is Sterling Silver? Properties, Differences, and Comparisons

The value of silver jewelry can sometimes surpass that of its more valuable competitors, such as gold. For centuries, sterling silver has been the centerpiece of jewelry due to its unique texture, color, and harmony with the human body.

In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know about Sterling Silver, including its composition, characteristics, and how it compares to other precious metals. Now let's take a closer look at it.

 What is Sterling Silver? Properties, Differences, and Comparisons image

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is a silver alloy that contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. With materials like copper and nickel, 925k sterling silver has the highest hardness value. This combination makes the metal more durable and less prone to tarnish compared to pure silver. Its unique properties make it a popular choice for jewelry-making and silverware production. 

What Does Sterling Silver Mean?

The term sterling silver is rooted in the term Eaststerling. It is thought to come from the silver coins that the German king gave to the English King Henry II in the 12th century to improve the quality of the coinages.

What is the 925 Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver products are composed of 92.5% pure silver, 7.5% copper, and nickel. The chemical process hardens silver, which would otherwise be soft and incompatible with rings, wedding bands, and bracelets

What Does 925 Mean on Jewelry? And Are There Any Other Marks that Can be Used to Indicate Sterling Silver?

A piece of 925-stamped silver jewelry can last for many years without a tarnishing problem. In 925 sterling silver, the number "925" is engraved on the invisible part of the jewelry. Some jewelry has the stamp "STG", representing sterling, or "SS" meaning Sterling Silver.

How Pure is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver jewelry consists of 92.5% silver, so the purity level is 92.5%. The remaining 7.5% consists of other materials.

How to Identify Sterling Silver?

925k sterling silver jewelry can be identified in a few simple ways.
  1. Check the stamps on it. It usually hides one of the marks: "925", "STG", "SS".
  2. Test with a magnet. If silver jewelry is attracted to the magnet, it is not 925 sterling silver, meaning it contains a high amount of metal.
  3. When you rub a piece of sterling silver jewelry on your cloth, your clothing will tarnish.
  4. Compare the weight of similar silver jewelry that you think is real if you know the weight. It should come out about the same weight.

What Markings are on Real Silver?

The internationally accepted silver stamps are “925”, “900”, “800”. These numbers also express the value of the silver used.

Is Sterling Silver Real Silver?

In 925 sterling silver, silver has the highest alloy ratio. An extremely small amount of copper and nickel is added to make it more durable and tarnishing-resistant. For jewelry such as cufflinks, necklaces, and earrings, 99.9% pure silver can easily tarnish and is too soft to use.

What Color is Sterling Silver?

It is called "milky white and gray metallic" and it is referred to as "the metal of the moon." According to the base color selected, it may have a blue, violet, or teal undertone.

Is Sterling Silver Waterproof?

Silver tarnishes when it is exposed to water due to oxidation. For this reason, it should not be exposed to prolonged water contact. Short-term hand washing is not problematic.

Are Silver and Sterling Silver Magnetic?

925 sterling silver or pure silver is not magnetic. It can, however, be magnetic because silver-plated jewelry has a high level of metal.

What is Sterling Silver Made of?

92.5% pure silver is used in the production of sterling silver. To harden, pure silver, copper, or nickel are added as hardening elements.

What is the Difference Between Silver and Sterling Silver?: 925 Sterling Silver vs. Silver

Pure silver is very soft and can be tarnished easily; however, sterling silver can last for many years without any tarnishing problems.
What is the Difference Between Silver and Sterling Silver?: 925 Sterling Silver vs. Silver image

What are the Pros and Cons of Comparing Silver to 925 Sterling Silver?  

The brilliance and elegance of sterling silver make it an eye-catching jewelry piece. In our next section, we'll take a closer look at its positives and negatives.

Durability and Wear Resistance

High-quality sterling silver maintains its quality for a lifetime. Simple solutions can easily remove them even if they are darkening over time.

Tarnish Resistance and Maintenance

Sterling silver is resistant to tarnishing, but darkening may occur from prolonged use. Rust does not develop, however. Thus, soaking in warm carbonated water can help remove it.

Price and Availability

Since silver is an abundant material and can be easily shaped, you can have quality and stylish silver jewelry at a very affordable price.

Appearance and Style

Silver has a unique texture and color. The reason why it is preferred so often is not due to its cost-effectiveness. Currently, silver is so popular that many people prefer it over gold or diamond jewelry. Due to the popularity of silver colors, silver gold has become the preferred choice instead of yellow gold.

Allergic Reactions and Skin Sensitivity

Silver is not an allergenic material. However, metals such as copper and nickel used in sterling silver can cause allergies such as itching or redness on the skin.

What Is a Sterling Silver Allergy?

Only a handful of people suffer allergies to sterling silver jewelry caused by materials such as copper and nickel. Metal-allergic people and those with sensitive skin should receive treatment or choose jewelry that contains a higher proportion of pure silver.

Which is Better, Sterling Silver or Silver?

Sterling silver is better than silver because it's stronger and can last a lifetime. Jewelry made of fine silver is easily damaged and is not recommended for regular wear.

What is the Difference Between 925 Sterling Silver and Stainless Steel? 925 Sterling Silver vs. Stainless Steel

In the end, it is a matter of personal preference; while the visual differences may be subtle, the properties of sterling silver vary significantly. Since sterling silver jewelry has been "in vogue" for quite a while, most people associate it with nostalgia.

What is the Difference Between 925 Sterling Silver and Stainless Steel? 925 Sterling Silver vs. Stainless Steel image

What are the Pros and Cons of Comparing Stainless Steel to Sterling Silver?  

The two materials are compared in detail below.

Durability and Scratch Resistance

Sterling silver is more prone to damage and easily scratched than stainless steel. Therefore, it requires more maintenance.

Tarnish Resistance and Maintenance

Especially silver jewelry users complain about darkening. This is not the case with steel jewelry.

Price and Availability

Stainless steel jewelry is much more affordable than silver.

Appearance and Style

Compared to steel jewelry, silver is a few steps ahead in terms of appearance. 

Hypoallergenic Properties

In both jewelry, the substance that causes the allergen is nickel. Since very low levels of nickel are used in both types of jewelry, allergies are extremely unlikely.

  Which is Better, 925 Sterling Silver, Silver or Stainless Steel? image

Which is Better, Sterling Silver or Stainless Steel?

A sterling silver piece usually has a unique finish and is considered more elegant than a stainless steel one. However, stainless steel is a more durable and stronger metal than sterling silver.                                                                                                           

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

OrlaSilver's Timeless Men's Silver Rings: A Symphony of Elegance

1 of 5