Updated: Jan 1
What is the difference between Fine silver and Sterling silver?
Pure Silver, also referred to as Fine silver, has actual silver content of 99.9%. Sterling silver is an alloy created when copper is added to pure silver in order to make the resulting compound more durable and less soft. Usually, sterling silver has a purity of 92.5%, meaning that 7.5% of the alloy is made of copper or another metal (usually nickel or zinc).There is also the so-called coin silver, which is an alloy of lower purity: It usually contains 90% or less silver.
Silver, Sterling Silver, and Tarnishing
Although sterling silver is more durable than pure silver, the additional metals in the alloy make sterling silver more prone to tarnishing. This happens because the copper, nickel, zinc or other mixtures in sterling silver may react with oxygen and other elements in the air.
Sterling Silver and Plating
Often, sterling silver items are plated with a thin layer of pure silver to improve the shine of the piece. Sometimes, however, you may see an item marketed as “sterling silver plated.” This often means that the piece is actually made of nickel, copper or another metal, not silver, and is simply plated with a layer of sterling silver, which will wear off after some time.