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Did you think that 925 sterling silver was the same thing? They're actually two different materials with different make-ups, care techniques, lifespans, and prices.
But what exactly are these differences? Is there one that's better in the sterling silver vs silver debate? Which should you go for the next time you like to buy a "silver" item?
We're going to answer all of these questions and more in this 925 sterling silver vs silver guide.
Silver items have long been known as signs of wealth and prosperity. This is true whether you own 925 sterling silver or pure silver since most times, you can't tell the status of the silver at a quick glance.
But let's look into how these two materials differ -
Silver is one of the components on the periodic table with the symbol Ag.
Any item described as pure silver, or also as fine silver, is as pure silver as you can get: its made of 99.9% pure elemental silver.
It will contain few trace elements, but it is essentially pure silver.
Pure silver is quite soft and complex to shape properly, which makes it hard to use to make items that require daily use or specific shapes. Because of this, pure silver is not normally used to make fine and delicate jewellery items.
This softness also means that fine silver items aren't as stable. They can be easily bent, made of misshapen, or damaged, which is why fine silver is mostly reserved for making fine jewellery.
Silver can also tarnish. This means that the gases in the air react with silver, which results in discoloring, fading, and what looks like a dirty layer on the top of silver products.
Fine silver is also usually stamped with a marker to indicate it is indeed fine silver. This stamp is usually "999" ".999," or "99.9" to suggest that it is 99.9% silver, as fine silver must be considered fine silver.
If it was pure silver, aka fine silver, as pure as you can get, it makes sense that "925 Sterling Silver" isn't quite as pure, although it's close.
925 Sterling silver is what's called as a metal alloy. This means that 925 sterling silver is a combination of metals instead of just one single metal.
Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy. This 7.5% is usually made of copper or zinc.
The addition of these other metals makes 925 sterling silver significantly more substantial and more durable. This allows it to be used to make several other things, including:
Notice that last use silver plated items listed above. Whenever you see something advertised as "silver plated," it most often means that the piece itself is made of another metal, and there's simply a thin layer of 925 sterling silver plated on top of the thing.
Also, notice that the list of uses for sterling silver is a lot longer than the one for fine silver. That's because the added durability that 925 sterling silver has means it won't be damaged or dented by everyday use and wear and tear like fine silver.
925 Sterling silver is more easily tarnished than you're silver. Silver by itself can become degraded from exposure to the air, as we already went over. With 925 sterling silver, however, it is easier to stain because of the alloy metals within 925 sterling silver.
Copper, nickel, and zinc are easily tarnished. When you combine those with another metal that can spoil, Like silver, the tarnishing process is faster and happens more easily.
925 Sterling silver is also stamped to indicate that it is authentic sterling silver. These stamps are usually "925," "92.5," or ".925" to indicate the purity of the silver within it. However, you can sometimes see"ss" as a sterling silver stamp.
There are a few benefits to sterling silver that might push you to purchase 925 sterling items over fine silver.
The first and most obvious would be the cost. Fine silver has a purity percentage of silver, which will make it more expensive compared to the less pure 925 sterling silver. However, sterling silver looks just as good as fine silver, which means you can get affordable, timeless pieces for a lower price.
There's also the durability factor. Sterling silver is much more stable compared to fine silver because of the added metal alloys. This can help your jewellery piece last and stay looking the best it possibly can for longer.
925 Sterling silver is more accessible to shape than soft and malleable fine silver, so you'll be able to find more options made of sterling silver vs silver.
You can make both pure silver and 925 sterling silver items last a lot longer by taking a few simple precautions.
For pure silver, you need to be extra careful with it. Since it isn't very durable and soft, you need to ensure not to overuse fine silver items or use them too roughly.
For both pure and sterling silver, store it in a dark place away from air and water disclosure. You can also clean your silver items with anti-tarnish liquid and a soft cloth.