Fine silver, or pure silver, is a very soft and malleable metal. It can be damaged easily so it is often combined with other metals to make it more durable. The most popular silver alloy is sterling silver which is a combination of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper.
Copper has been deemed the best metal to combine with silver over centuries of trials. While it is possible for any metal to make up the 7.5% non-silver portion of sterling, copper improves the hardness and durability without taking away from the beautiful colour of silver.
Pricing for silver pieces is generally more reflective of the intricacy of the design and the skills of the craftsman rather than based on the metal itself.
As a result of the softness of pure silver, it is normally only used when a high level of malleability is required- such as jewellery featuring weaving or other delicate designs.
Sterling silver is the more common silver alloy used for jewellery making and household accessories due to its combination of both durability and beauty. Acceptable marks of quality for sterling sliver pieces include:
- sterling silver
Caring for silver pieces differs slightly from caring for items made from other metals. Silver tends to tarnish. It is best to remove tarnish at the onset and this can be done with a tarnish remover and soft cloth. Care should be taken not to scratch silver pieces. Store silver pieces individually to prevent scratches and other damage. Also avoid contact with household cleaners including bleach and ammonia as these can damage your silver jewellery. Swimming in chlorinated water can have the same effect so it is best to remove your silver pieces before swimming.