What is Sterling Silver Jewellery

by : Catherine D'Arcy

Silver comes in many forms

Pure silver is also known as fine silver. In this form, it is relatively soft and malleable. It would not stand up to the everyday wear and tear we put our jewellery through. So, it is combined with other metals to arrive at a more durable product.

Silver plating is done by coating a less expensive metal with a layer of pure silver by the process of electroplating. This was commonly used in the 18th century on table wear, but rarely on jewellery.

Vermeil is sterling silver that is electroplated with at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold. Again it was a popular method in the 18th century.

Electrum is an amber-coloured alloy of gold and silver, used in ancient times for coins, cups & other table wear.

Coin silver refers to 90% pure silver and 10% metal alloy (usually copper) used to make coins.

German silver or nickel silver is a mixture of nickel, copper and zinc and was used in the 1700 for silver-plating various items.

Silver 800-An alloy of 80% Silver and 20% alloy used in casting because of its increased strength.

Sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% and 7.5% copper. Copper is the best alloy for silver as it improves the metal's hardness without affecting its colour and shine.

Sterling Silver is popular for use in jewellery because of its characteristics of light colour, strength and malleability.

Sterling Silver Jewellery should always be hallmarked by the UK Assay Office to guarantee its purity and quality (see hallmarking). Do NOT buy silver that has not been hallmarked!
Silver Jewellery