Have you ever wondered if the silver jewelry you are paying for is too much? What constitutes a valuable piece of expensive silver jewelry? There are actually different grades of silver which, in large part, is used to determine its worth. Although there are variants, the main grades of silver are pure, sterling, and parts.
Pure silver is 99.5% silver or above; or 995-1000 parts out of 1000 of silver. It is typically only the component of fine silver jewelry. Although more valuable, it is not a very pragmatic choice as it is very soft in its pure form. This means that it is more prone to being bent, scratched, and misshapen.
Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy; 925 parts are silver and 75 are of another metal out of a total 1,000 parts. The alloy component adds the benefit of strengthening the silver making it more practical. Although the most common alloy in Sterling Silver is copper, others are also used. Other variants are often used to capitalize on the strengths of other metal properties, such as less likelihood of tarnishing, reduction of casting porosity, elimination of firescale, etc.
Sterling Silver is often the sought after choice for women who suffer a silver sensitivity. Silver sensitivity is a term used to describe an allergic reaction, most commonly contact dermatitis that results from skin contact to an element that someone has developed an allergy to. It results in itchy, red, scaly, and sometimes blistery skin surrounding the area in which the substance came into contact with. Most commonly that substance is nickel. What consumers should be aware of, is that if you suffer a nickel allergy, although less common in non-sterling silver pieces, it is still a possibility if the silver was alloyed with nickel. The key to being a savvy shopper is to simply ask and determine the composition of the alloy used in the jewelry.
The third main grade of silver is parts. This refers to any composition of silver 800 parts (or 80% silver) and below. Pure and Sterling Silver can be diluted when soldered. Thus, the more intricate soldering that was done making your jewelry can play a role in determining the final silver composition of the piece. A point worth considering when purchasing jewelry.
Silver jewelry is beautiful no matter what the composition. Savvy shoppers should simply be aware of the compositions which inherently make it more expensive, the jewelry making steps that can dilute the quality of the silver, causes of silver sensitivity, and how to care for your jewelry. Well cared for silver pieces are not only beautiful, but can last a lifetime if well-crafted.