What is Sterling Silver? Differences from Silver Explained

With so many different types and styles of silver jewelry, it can be easy to get confused trying to identify what your jewelry is made of. One of the most popular precious metals used in jewelry is sterling silver, which is prized for its luster, durability, and beauty.

You may be wondering what the difference is between sterling silver and other types of silver. If you are, don’t worry, you are in the perfect place to learn! So let’s talk about sterling silver and what makes it so special compared to other types of precious metals.

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is fine silver that has been combined with another metal. In order to be called sterling steel, it must contain at least 92.5% silver, and the remaining 7.5% can be other metals, with copper being the most popular choice. This is done because fine silver is typically considered to be too soft and difficult to form and shape properly. 

Related: Types of Silver: Learn  Grades and Alloys

Even forming something as basic as a ring will be difficult since it will quickly lose its shape during the metalworking process. Adding copper to silver makes the resulting alloy to be harder and easier to form while making it much more durable. This does have some drawbacks, however, with the main one being that sterling silver tends to tarnish at a much faster rate than fine silver.

There are a couple of theories about how sterling silver got its name. The most popular theory is that they got their name from Easterlings, German metalworkers that specialized in making coins that were brought to England in the 1100s. 

Throughout history and in modern times, sterling silver has been used to create jewelry, tableware, flatware, and other decorative items. This is due to the beautiful white luster that sterling silver has and its ability to hold elaborate and detailed designs.


a pallet of fine silver bars


How Does Sterling Silver Match Up Against Fine Silver

There are quite a few differences between sterling silver and fine or pure silver. The main difference is in the silver content of the two precious metals. Sterling silver must contain at least 92.5% silver, while fine silver consists of 99.9% silver. Fine silver can contain a few trace elements of other elements, but it is pretty much as pure as you can get with silver.

Since fine silver does not have copper added to it, it is much softer and harder to shape than sterling silver. Before sterling silver was invented, fine silver was used to make jewelry, decorative objects, and even as currency. In more modern times, fine silver is used in electronics or even in dental alloys and is most commonly sold as silver bullion.

Related: Sterling Silver vs. White Gold: Which is Right for You

Both silver and sterling silver can tarnish, leaving a dirty-looking layer of grime on top of your silver jewelry. This is caused by the oxygen and sulfur in the air reacting to the gases causing a chemical reaction that leaves a layer of discoloration on the surface of your silver. 

Sterling silver tends to tarnish more easily and more quickly than fine silver does. This is due to the metals that are combined with fine silver to create sterling silver. The metals that are most commonly used to mix with silver to create sterling silver are copper, zinc, and nickel, which are all metals that are prone to tarnishing. 

Related: What is 925 Sterling Silver?

Both fine silver and sterling silver are usually stamped with a market to indicate the percentage of silver it contains. Fine silver will usually be marked with .999 to indicate that is made of 99.9%, while sterling silver will be marked with .925 to indicate that it is made of 92.5% fine silver.

Here at LaCkore Couture, we only offer jewelry dipped in 24k silver. Make sure to check out the wide selection of silver necklaces we offer. 

Why Choose Sterling Silver Over Fine Silver?

You may be wondering to yourself why you should choose sterling silver over fine silver. After all, fine silver is purer than sterling silver, so wouldn’t it be the best choice for jewelry? There’s a few things to consider before deciding if fine silver or sterling silver is the better choice for jewelry.

One of the biggest advantages that sterling silver has over fine silver is its durability. The added copper, zinc, nickel, or other materials makes sterling silver much more resistant to scratches, cuts, or other damage. 

Sterling silver is also much easier to work with than fine silver, which is too soft and malleable to create intricate and delicate designs. If you are looking for silver jewelry that has incredible and complex designs, you will probably have to go with sterling silver.

Another thing to consider when making a choice between fine silver and sterling silver is the price. Since sterling silver has less silver content than fine gold, it can be significantly cheaper than fine silver jewelry.

Are you looking for a new source of beautiful, expertly crafted jewelry to help you express your true essence while turning a few heads? Take a look at the wide range of gorgeous products proudly designed and handcrafted by the professionals at LaCkore Couture today.


a view of the inside of a display case in a jewelry store


Final Thoughts

Now that you know the differences between fine silver and sterling silver, you can make the best choice for your next piece of silver jewelry. Although both precious metals look great in jewelry, sterling silver has some great advantages that are hard to pass up so the next time you are at the jewelry shop, consider sterling silver as your next purchase!