Love Sterling Silver? Me too! Let's dive into the difference and what to expect between Sterling Silver and Plated Silver.
Sterling silver is an alloy made with 92.5 pure silver and 7.5% copper. On its own, silver is a pretty soft metal, and adding copper gives it durability and strength. Sterling Silver jewelry will have a quality mark "925" somewhere on the piece. This helps identify the quality. It's only required on jewelry where there is enough surface area to stamp it. So small components & wire may not have this mark.
When I used sterling silver chains and wire in my designs, I don’t individually stamp my pieces, especially with components that are very small. Sterling Silver is the only silver I use in my designs.
Care of Sterling Silver
Sterling Silver tarnishes from time to time and will need to be cleaned periodically. Use non-abrasive silver tarnish removal products like a silver polishing cloth, careful to avoid gemstones and pearls. The anti-tarnish dip cleaners are generally good for most items, but can damage pearls and some gemstones. Also, if there is any oxidation on your item (on purpose! Think Bali components or Southwestern jewelry), dip cleaners WILL remove that as well, so best to use a polishing cloth for those items instead.
Plated Silver is a base metal type of silver with an extremely thin plating layer of silver applied to the surface. This silver is not regulated. Silver-plated jewelry is affordable costume jewelry. Plating can tarnish and will eventually wear off to expose the base metal underneath. Costume jewelry will not have a quality stamp but it may bear the manufacturers logo or hallmark. I do not use Plated Silver in my designs.