How To Tell Sterling Silver From Silver Plated Jewelry

Do you own any silver jewelry? This metal has been a jewelry material many people love for centuries. Its cool tone makes it an excellent match for most clothing, making it a staple for your wardrobe.

If you have ever bought cheap silver jewelry, you'll understand the importance of knowing what kind of metal is in your rings, chains, or earrings. Having the wrong metals in your jewelry can cause your favorite pieces to become discolored and lose their original shine. Inexpensive materials can also leave unsightly marks on your skin or cause an allergic reaction. 

Do you know how to tell what kind of metal is in your silver-colored jewelry? Let's talk about how you can tell the difference between sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry. Then, we'll explore the best silver metal for your jewelry. 

The Pros and Cons of Sterling Silver

Sterling silver has been a widely-loved metal since the 1400s. This material contains 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper alloy to help it remain intact and durable.

One of the pros of sterling silver is its luster. Jewelry wearers have long upheld this material for its shiny finish that eventually fades to a glow. Jewelry and flatware made from sterling silver typically hold a higher value compared to other metals, too, making it ideal for heirlooms. 

Unfortunately, as the copper alloy in sterling silver makes contact with water, air, and sulfur, it can cause even valuable sterling silver jewelry and dining ware to tarnish. Another downfall of this metal is the amount of work necessary to keep it looking its best.

To keep your sterling silver looking presentable, you'll likely need to have silver polish nearby. You may have to regularly look at your sterling silver jewelry to ensure it's not tarnishing. 

Ultimately, while sterling silver is quite valuable, it requires extra maintenance due to its tarnishing tendency. 

Advantages and Disadvantages to Silver-Plated Jewelry 

Silver-plated jewelry contains a layer of silver on top of durable base metal. This silver differs from the alloy in sterling silver because the base metal lies underneath the layer of the plated material. 

One of the advantages of silver-plated jewelry is the cost. On average, silver-plated jewelry tends to be much less expensive than its sterling silver counterpart, making it a fantastic alternative for those who wish to purchase silver jewelry at a more affordable price point. Silver-plated jewelry can also look just as quality as sterling silver since the silver quantity of the jewelry exists on the outside of the base metal. 

Unfortunately, there are drawbacks to silver-plated jewelry. Although it is less expensive to purchase, this kind of metal is less valuable in the end due to its low silver concentration. It also requires as much maintenance as sterling silver, meaning you'll have to monitor when and where you choose to wear silver-plated jewelry.

Essentially, silver-plated jewelry is an excellent choice for people who wish to purchase silver-colored jewelry but can't afford sterling silver. Though it's less expensive, be prepared to wear your silver-plated jewelry pieces with caution. 

How To Tell the Difference Between Both Kinds of Silver

How can you tell the difference between sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry if you're not a jeweler?

Let's explore a few key ways to determine which is which: 

Each Kind Will Have Unique Markings 

When you purchase a piece of silver jewelry, it should contain a unique hallmark that communicates its contents. For example, an article of sterling silver jewelry should display a hallmark that reads "925" to indicate that it contains 92.5% silver. On the other hand, silver-plated jewelry may have a marking that reads "EP."

Five Tests You Can Try 

If you've purchased a piece of silver jewelry and can't tell what kind of metal it contains, you may still be able to find out. Ultimately, taking your jewelry to a trusted jewelry appraiser can help you learn what kind of metal is in your favorite pieces.

However, if you want to get an idea of what kind of metal is in your silver jewelry, there are a few tests you can try to find out:

  • Magnet Test: Precious metals such as gold, silver, and copper are not magnetic. If you hold a magnet to your sterling silver jewelry, it should not pull. If your jewelry sticks to the magnet, that's a sign that your jewelry contains another material besides silver and copper. 
  • Odor Test: Sterling silver doesn't have a scent; it's odorless. If you smell your sterling silver jewelry, it shouldn't have a noticeable odor. If you can detect a metallic scent in your sterling silver jewelry, your pieces may contain an alloy metal other than copper. 
  • Polish Test: By now, you've probably gathered that authentic sterling silver needs to be polished regularly. If you rub a piece of sterling silver jewelry and it does not leave any black or dark marks behind, it may not be genuine sterling silver.
  • Flake Test: This test is exactly what it sounds like. Whenever you're dealing with a silver-plated material instead of sterling silver, it may have the tendency to flake off and reveal another metal underneath. If you scratch your silver jewelry and nothing happens, you'll know the material is sterling silver. 
  • Ice Test: Silver has a high thermal conductivity. If you can, grab an ice cube and set it on top of the silver jewelry in question. If it appears to be melting relatively fast, that's a sign that it may be authentic sterling silver. 

Which Kind of Silver Is Best for Jewelry? 

Are sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry the best options for your jewelry? After all, sterling silver requires quite a bit of maintenance. If you're someone who likes to wear jewelry often, you may not enjoy how careful you'll have to be when wearing silver-plated and sterling silver jewelry.

When you're looking for silver jewelry that looks incredible and can last through any conditions without wearing, sterling silver and silver-plated metals don't cut it. Stainless steel is the silver option that combines the advantages of each metal. It's affordable and durable to last through any context without breaking down or losing its luster. 

Five Pieces of Stainless Steel Jewelry To Add To Your Collection 

When you're ready to buy new silver jewelry, we've got the stainless steel pieces that can bulk up your collection.

Let's take a look at a few pieces you can add to your wardrobe today:

1. The CRAFTD Tennis Chain

If you enjoy silver jewelry that's striking and bold, this necklace is for you. You can wear silver jewelry that's icy and fresh at the same time. Our Tennis chain is our take on an iconic piece of jewelry. 

2. The CRAFTD St. Christopher Ring 

If you're someone who prefers statement jewelry and bolder silhouettes, this ring is perfect for your style. In premium 316L stainless steel, the image of St. Christopher on this ring can add a rugged texture to your look. Wear it alone or pair it with other silver rings.

3. The CRAFTD Snake Bracelet

Do you enjoy sleek, subtle jewelry? If so, our CRAFTD Snake bracelet in stainless steel makes the perfect low-key accent to any formal or informal look. 

4. The CRAFTD Dagger Earring 

If you like making an entrance with your apparel, you may enjoy wearing bold earrings. Our CRAFTD dagger earring in premium stainless steel is one piece that's sure to draw eyes in a room. Wear it alone or pair it with other chains to make a more coordinated jewelry look.  

5. The CRAFTD G-Link Chain

You might already have a chain collection that you add to now and then. When you're looking to add more original pieces, consider throwing our CRAFTD G-Link chain into the mix. In premium stainless steel, this piece is ideal for layering. 

CRAFTD Offers Quality Jewelry

You shouldn't have to worry about your jewelry falling apart with everyday wear. While some sources might have you be careful with your silver-plated and sterling silver accessories, you don't have to take the same caution with our silver jewelry. You should be able to live your life knowing your jewelry will continue to look good through anything. 

Buy Silver Jewelry You Love at CRAFTD

Life's too short to buy jewelry that requires a ton of maintenance. When you're ready to add durable jewelry to your collection, CRAFTD has you covered. Look fresh as hell in silver jewelry without worrying about it. 

 

Sources:

Plated Jewelry: What Is It and Should You Buy It? | jewelry Notes

Is All That Shines Really Sterling Silver? | How Stuff Works

Conductivity and Conductive Elements | ThoughtCo