Over the last few years, there’s been an increase in rates of silver jewelry sales worldwide, and the demand is expected to continue in the near future.
It’s not surprising that so many people are interested in silver jewelry. After all, silver’s a classic jewelry option and it looks good on almost everyone.
How much do you know about silver, though? Did you know there are different types of silver that get used when creating jewelry and watches?
Have you ever wondered what type of silver you ought to look for when you’re out shopping? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Explained below are some of the most common types of silver you might run into.
Sometimes, when you’re shopping for silver jewelry or watches, you come across a piece that is described as “silver” without any other details. When you run into something that’s “just” silver, you can assume that it’s not of the highest or purest quality.
In most cases, the jewelry will be silver-plated (more on that later). Sometimes, though, it is a high-quality piece that isn’t labeled well.
If you suspect this is the case, talk tot he seller about the contents of the silver alloy. They may be able to give you more insight and help you determine whether or not the piece is a good one worth purchasing.
Fine silver is the purest form of silver used in jewelry and watches. It has a lustrous white color to it and is hypoallergenic.
Fine silver (sometimes referred to as pure silver) is soft and not very durable. It gets scratched quite easily and may lose its shape.
It’s unparalleled in terms of the way it looks, though. It’s often used to make low-impact jewelry, such as earrings and pendants that won’t go through a lot of wear and tear.
If you’re looking for a watch or piece of jewelry made of fine silver, it should have a .999 of .999FS stamp on it.
Argentium silver is a more durable alternative to fine silver. It lasts longer and is easier to maintain. It’s also hypoallergenic and very tarnish-resistant.
Argentium silver is a modern form of silver that jewelry and watchmakers have only started using in recent years.
It’s not quite as pure as fine silver, as it’s alloyed with copper and germanium, but it is still one of the purest options on the market. It comes in two purity grades: 93.2 percent and 96 percent.
Only authorized jewelry makers can make their products with the Argentium stamp since it is a brand name.
Sterling silver is a popular silver option for jewelry and watches. It is less pure than fine silver and Argentium silver. That doesn’t mean it’s worthless, though.
Sterling silver is very reflective and highly durable. It consists of 92.5 percent silver plus 7.5 percent copper. This combination creates a durable and wearable metal, although it does tarnish more easily than some other options.
Common indicators of a piece of sterling silver jewelry include a .925 or .925 STG stamp. Vintage pieces may have an STG, STERLING, or STER stamp.
Nickel silver is an inexpensive form of “silver” that’s often used for costume jewelry. It is not real silver, but it has a silver color and is often used when making imitation silver jewelry and watches.
Nickel silver is made of 60 percent copper, 20 percent nickel, and 20 percent zinc. It looks nice from afar, but it is not hypoallergenic and, as we’ve noted, is not actually silver, so it’s not ideal for those who are looking for an authentic watch or piece of jewelry.
Some watches and pieces of jewelry are silver plated. This means they have a silver coating on top of a base metal.
Because so little silver is used when making them, watches and jewelry that are silver plated are often quite affordable. They’re not hypoallergenic, though, and they’re not very durable.
Some jewelry and watches are silver filled instead of silver plated. These options contain more silver than those that are silver plated. On average, they contain about 5-10 percent silver.
They may be more expensive than silver-plated options, but they’re still more affordable than higher-end silver watches and pieces of jewelry.
Keep in mind that silver-filled pieces are not hypoallergenic, and they tend to tarnish easily.
Tribal silver (sometimes referred to as Tibetan silver) is often inexpensive and used in some beautiful watch and jewelry designs. In many cases, though, tribal silver contains little-to-no actual silver and is not very durable.
It’s not hypoallergenic, either, and may contain dangerous metals that can irritate the skin. It’s important to exercise caution when looking at something made of tribal silver.
Coin silver is a more affordable type of silver that is quite rare. It has a good purity content (90 percent pure silver) and was once the most common silver alloy in the U.S.
Coin silver is hard to find, and it does tarnish easily. If you do happen to get your hands on a watch or piece of jewelry that’s made from it, though, you can verify that it’s coin silver by looking for a .900 stamp.
A lot of silver comes from countries like Bali, Thailand, and Mexico. Sometimes, this silver is of high quality. Other times, it’s a low-grade material masquerading as something higher end.
If the silver is a high-quality type worth purchasing, it’ll have a “925” stamp somewhere on it (likely in an inconspicuous place).
If there aren’t any markings, it’s likely a lower quality piece. This is especially true if you’re shopping at a less-than-reputable place, such as a street corner, a cruise-ship stop, or a bargain jewelry website.
Which Types of Silver Interest You the Most?
As you can see, there are tons of different types of silver that you can choose from when you’re shopping for watches or jewelry (or both).
Do any of these types stand out to you? Do you want to try and find a watch or other piece of jewelry made from them?
If so, check out our Top Watch Lists to learn about cool new watches that feature your favorite type of silver.