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How Is Sterling Silver Different From Pure Silver?

How Is Sterling Silver Different From Pure Silver?

15-March | By 925silverjaipur

Many of you might find this heading weird as you have always believed that both pure silver and sterling silver are the same. In fact both the words are often used interchangeably as they are considered synonyms of each other. Well, there is no one to be blamed for this in light of the fact that it is tricky and difficult to determine the difference between them. If you buy silver jewellery online, then you must have noticed that it is tough to know whether the piece displayed in the picture is genuine or fake. Even when you go to a shop to get your hands on silver jewellery or sterling silver earrings, it is hard to differentiate between them. To make things easier for you and impart some understanding, here is an article that will share how you can distinguish silver from sterling silver and vice-versa. Lets’ start with finding what these two elements are:

What Is Silver?

Also known as fine silver, it contains 99.9% silver and has .1% trace of other elements. This purest form is too soft and malleable, so it tends to lose shape and can wear out. Hence, it is mixed with other metals to make the piece harder and create a strong alloy. Over the years, this metal is used for several purposes apart from making jewellery by people across the world irrespective of their lifestyle and religion. They are used to make utensils, decor, religious talismans, ornaments, currency and also for trading. Considered a symbol of trust, silver is also used as medicine in the late 1930s as it has antibiotic properties. If we talk about the present scenario, then silver has just 2% of worth as compared to what it was 500 years ago.

What Is Sterling Silver?

It is made by adding copper to pure silver so that the metal is less soft and more durable. It consists of 92.5% purity and 7.5% alloy which can be either copper or any other metal like zinc or nickel. There is a coin silver as well which is a low-quality alloy and has 90% or less silver. The jewellery made of this substance can be tagged as .925/925/92.5/ sterling or 925 silver.


Silver may be softer but sterling tends to tarnish faster because of the additional alloy present in it. When fine silver reacts with air, it results in fading, discolouring, and look dirty. However, due to its combination with zinc, copper, nickel, and other metals, sterling is more prone to tarnishing as they can react with oxygen and other elements.


Sterling silver earrings and other jewellery are plated with the pure silver layer so that the piece shines more. Have you ever seen jewellery item marked, “sterling silver plated?” it means that the jewellery piece is made of copper, zinc, or nickel and then it was plated with a silver layer which will wear off in some time.

There is an acid-test to check the purity of silver. But, it is better to let shopkeeper prove that to you instead of performing the test yourself. Next time, you have to buy silver jewellery online, check the stamp for “999” or “925” label. You can also find “ss” written used as a sterling silver stamp.

We hope that you are now one step closer to understand the difference between pure and sterling silver and the write-up will help you make a wise and calculated decision in the future.


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