What Types of Silver are Used in Jewellery?
There are 5 types of silver used in Jewellery. Fine Silver, Sterling Silver, Reticulated Silver, Plated Silver and Silver Filled.
Pure, 9999 or Fine Silver is far too flexible to withstand any wear as the main metal in a piece. Though it is useful for several elements and techniques. Jewelers use fine silver to make bezels for stone setting and it is the perfect metal in enameling.
The most used is Sterling Silver, also known as 925 Silver. What this means is that out of 1000 parts, 925 of them are fine/pure/999 silver and the other 75 parts are copper. Combining copper with fine silver gives more durability and structure to the silver. This helps Sterling Silver Jewellery to withstand everyday wear and tear. Usually, pieces will be stamped with STERLING, 925 or SILVER to identify.
Reticulated Silver or 800, like sterling silver, out of 1000 parts, 800 are fine silver and 200 are copper. Jewelers can make this alloy or buy a flat sheet. When heated with a torch, the flame creates these amazing hills and valley texture. Almost like a miniature mountain range. Reticulated Silver is great for decorative elements.
When it comes to Silver Plating, it can mean one of two ways in which Silver is being used. The first is rhodium plating. The whole piece of solid sterling, fine and/or reticulated silver is covered in rhodium. Rhodium is a silvery-white metal that helps maintain the silver colour and prevent the tarnishing over time. The second is Silver Plating a base metal object. In both plating methods, the layer deposited is super thin and will rub off in time and then re-plating will be necessary.
Lastly, I would like to introduce silver filled wire. It is fairly new to the Jewellery community and I have not used this product. It is marketed to jewelers and hobbyists who make wire-wrapped pieces. The Silver-Filled wire is similar to silver plating over a base metal but the layer of silver deposited on the base metal wire is much thicker. The silver should make up for 5-10% of the overall wire.
I hope this post has cleared up any questions regarding what types of silver are used in making Jewellery.