Pure Silver vs. Sterling Silver: So What IS the Difference?
You've heard them both before - and I'm sure you've worn at least one before! You may even have a piece of silver jewelry in your jewelry collection. But do you know if it's pure silver or sterling silver? Is sterling silver better? What does "sterling" even mean??
Well, I'm glad you asked! Make yourself a relaxing drink and read for the next few minutes. I'm going to give you a basic background of silver and then give you the differences of each!
What is Silver?
Silver is a commodity. What's a commodity you ask? It's a material that we use in many different ways that's bought and sold in our ever-growing world. Our world uses it for so much more than jewelry, although jewelry is its second-largest use! Since it's the metal with the highest thermal and electrical conductivity, it's also used for industrial purposes, electronic appliances, silverware and photography! It's one of the stronger precious metals, making it wonderful for jewelry!
Most of the silver in our world is produced in countries like Peru, Mexico, China and Australia. It's extracted in mines that find silver ore, then heated and shaped to look like the charms or chains on necklaces and headpieces you wear today!
Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about silver and the difference between the two main types of silver used in jewelry:
Whether you call it regular silver, fine silver, pure silver, it's all SILVER. Pure silver is created with 99.9% of its pure material, which means that there are no cheaper metals mixed in with it.
Why would anyone want a pure silver piece of jewelry with cheaper metals like aluminum or copper mixed with it? Well, pure silver is very soft, fragile and can break easily. Which is why you won't see a piece jewelry that's pure silver much unless its mixed with another stronger material.
Pure silver is used more in trading and other industries. But you can still find jewelry that is mostly
silver, you'll just have to pay more and look for it. ;)
Sterling silver is silver, but contains a teeny amount of copper to make it much more durable (If you're looking for the numbers, this type of silver contains 92.5% pure silver, while the other 7.5% is copper).
Why take out pure silver with a cheaper metal like copper? Because this durability is perfect for jewelry since it's stronger and can handle being worn over and over.
How does it look different? Well, it's SHINIER and LIGHTER and just pretty! Sterling silver shines in the light and looks good on anyone's skin since it pops!
But, there's always a downside to pretty things. Unfortunately since sterling silver contains other metals like copper (sometimes aluminum or nickel), the mixture of oxygen makes it more prone to tarnishing. YES. Sterling silver CAN tarnish. You know, that ugly brown-ish color that spreads on your jewelry? That's what I'm talking about.
Luckily, this tarnishing doesn't happen immediately. You'd have to wear it over and over for awhile to see the tarnish. I've had several sterling silver necklaces and jewelry that I've worn for years now and still have yet to see tarnish!
Strong jewelry comes with a cost (not literally), and if you're looking for something strong, pure silver simply isn't going to cut it.
Which Should You Choose?
With pros and cons of both pure silver and sterling silver, which is better? Well, that depends! For jewelry, if you're wanting to wear something all the time or for events where you'll be moving around a lot, I'd suggest to pick something with a sterling silver base. Not only is it mostly silver to maintain its allure, it will also luster in the light and will remain strong no matter where you go - whether that's a fun night out, a day outside or a concert! You also won't need to worry as much about it's delicacy since it's been supported with a stronger metal to maintain its look.
If you're looking for a timeless piece of jewelry that you'd wear to fancy or calm occasions, then go for a more pure silver piece of jewelry. There's something about pure silver and its softness with pure color that makes it such a delightful piece to wear! If you're feeling more that style and have some cash you'd love to indulge on something timeless, then I'd say go for the pure silver!
Regardless which you choose, you're choosing a good piece of precious metal! Silver has been a reliable and nice material for jewelry for years and it will add so much value to what you wear! Remember, good jewelry starts with good quality. Nobody wants jewelry that will break easily or last for just a few months. Always remember to choose something you love and that you know will suit you best!