What is the Difference between Sterling Silver and 98-99.9% Pure Silver?

Aside from gold, Silver is one of those precious metals highly valued by humans. Silver is also a highly desirable material for making pieces of jewelry of various types and designs. In its pure state, silver is a soft and lustrous white transition metal. It is generally measured per-mile basis, and for this reason, you would often hear of 925, 940, and 98-99.9 silver.

What is Pure Silver?

Silver standards are often used to figure out the millesimal fineness of silver in reference to its crafting ability. Fine silver, for example, has a millesimal fineness of 999. This fine silver is also called pure silver or three-nines fine and contains around 99.9% silver with the trace amount of impurities. This fine silver or pure silver is too soft to be fashioned into jewelry, and as such, it needs to be combined with other metals.
There are different types of silver alloys and they are named according to the amount of silver that these alloys contain. Britannia silver, for example, contains millesimal fineness of 958, while French 1st standard has a millesimal fineness of 950. Russian 91 zolotnik silver has a fineness of 947, while 88 zolotniks Russian silver has the millesimal fineness of 916. The usual coin silver that you would generally see has around 900 millesimal fineness, while sterling silver has a millesimal fineness of 925. Since silver is so soft in its pure state, other metals like copper must be added into it to create different types of silver alloys, and to make it practically useful. Hence, in the case of Britannia silver, around 4.2% of other metal is added to the silver.

Understanding Sterling Silver

The origin of the term sterling silver can be dated back to the old French “sterling” around 1085 AD to refer to the newly introduced silver penny during that time. At present, sterling silver is one of the alloys of silver. It has a millesimal fineness of 925 which means it contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metal. In the case of sterling silver, it is usually copper that is added to it to make it stronger and usable in jewelry. However, sterling silver, although stronger and more durable than pure silver, is prone to tarnishing, especially, if the other metal added to it is copper. Hence, in some cases, other metals such as zinc, silicon, germanium, platinum, and boron, are also combined with it to reduce its tarnishing.

What are the Uses of Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is widely used nowadays in making dinner fork, salad fork, shrimp fork, and place fork. It is also used in manufacturing spoons of different kinds. Moreover, it is also utilized in making knives. It is likewise used in producing paper clips, cigarette cases, mechanical pencils, and hair clips. It can also be used in medical instruments, and can also be a material for some musical instruments. But most especially, sterling silver has grown in popularity because of its use in designer jewelry that is cast in sterling silver. Lastly, most high-end jewelry designers always incorporate the use of sterling silver in their pieces of jewelry.


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