Don’t you just love silver jewelry? It can add some flash to a rocker look, it can be traditional and subtle, and it can be layered for an extra touch of style. You might be surprised when shopping for silver jewelry that there are different types of silver used in jewelry. Understanding the different types can help you make sure you’re getting what you pay for and invest in the types of pieces that you want for your collection. Because let’s face it, sometimes you want an investment jewelry piece and sometimes you just want a little bling.
Fine silver is the closest to pure silver. It has a 99.9% purity. This purity means that it’s a bit softer than other types of silver. It’s hard to find fine silver jewelry but when you do, it’s usually earrings or necklaces. If you’re looking for fine silver pieces, know that they tend to be duller when compared to sterling silver, which has a bright polish. The benefit of this type of silver is that it doesn’t tarnish. It’s also easy to form, and jewelers can create some lovely and unique pieces.
Many types of silver are prone to tarnishing, including the beloved sterling silver. Argentium, on the other hand, is an alloy, which means it is blended with other elements to make it stronger and in this case less prone to tarnish. Argentium silver is approximately 92.5% silver, with the rest being copper and germanium. This blending of metals makes it harder, so it’s less likely to be damaged. It is also less likely to tarnish. As you might suspect, Argentium is significantly more expensive than sterling silver and it can be more difficult to find. When at a jeweler, you’ll likely have to ask whether something is sterling or Argentium.
Sterling silver is the standard that most people look for when buying silver jewelry. It’s the most common type of silver that you’ll find for jewelry. It’s an alloy of 92.5% silver, combined with copper or nickel. It’s durable and shiny, which makes it a favorite with many jewelry lovers. However, it’s also prone to tarnish – and while it’s harder than fine silver, it’s not as durable as other types of silver. Both sterling and Argentium have the same 92.5 stamp on them, which makes it difficult to tell the difference. A trusted jeweler will know and be able to tell you what a piece is made of.
If you’re looking at costume jewelry or extremely budget-friendly jewelry, then it’s probably silver plated. This means that a base metal like brass or nickel goes through a process and a layer of silver is applied to the surface. The coating can be durable, but it will wear away over time. Often the silver in the silver plating is a small percentage of silver and is instead a combination of metals including silver. Plating can also tarnish over time.
Silver is a fun metal to wear. It’s versatile, it can be budget friendly or it can be an investment piece. Know what you’re looking for when you go shopping so that you can invest in the piece that you want.