Sterling silver and pure silver are terms that are often used interchangeably but don't always mean the identical thing.
The silver content is 99.9% pure silver. Pure silver is imprinted with marks, such as 999, 99.9 or 0.999, indicating how much silver is contained in the product per hundred or thousand parts.
Because of its high purity, pure silver is simply too soft to be utilized in jewelry, and it's often mixed with other metals to create it harder. Therefore, silver is typically alloyed with copper to extend its hardness and strength.
Sterling silver or 925 sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5 wt.% Silver and 7.5 wt.% Other metals, usually copper, but also other metals, to make the compound obtained more durable and less soft.
Copper is prone to discoloration, and elements other than copper can be used in alloys to reduce tarnishing, as well as casting porosity and scale formation. These elements include germanium, zinc, platinum, silicon and boron. Recently, in an alloy of silver, sterl, sterilize and sylvadium are added
The generally accepted standard of pure silver for jewelry has a minimum millesim grain of 925. Such silver is usually marked by a breakdown of 925, .925 or 92.5. Jewelry with lower purity is not considered pure silver jewelry by standards. It is worth noting that silver sold in other parts of the world may have a purity lower than 92.5% and sold as silver, rather than sterling silver or 925 sterling silver.
Pure silver does not react with water or oxygen at normal temperatures, but pure silver is not strong enough for jewelry metal - it will easily lose shape and break, and ultimately it will fade. Therefore, 925 is the optimal legislatively accepted ratio when silver contains a small percentage of other hypoallergenic metals that give it strength, and, at the legislative level, it is considered pure high-quality 925 silver (sterling silver) for jewelry.
Ways to clean silver, find out more.
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