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Differences in Sterling Silver, Argentium and Fine Silver

Having trouble deciphering what is sterling silver and what isn't?  Knowing the differences in silver metals can help determine value and avoid potential jewelry allergies.

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is made of 92.5% Silver with the remaining typically being copper.  Sterling silver will tarnish over time and it is handy to have a polishing cloth or a bottle of Tarnex on hand to dip your sterling silver into to effortlessly remove any tarnish.  Sterling silver is also referred to by a .925 or 925 stamp on jewelry.  

Not all sterling silver jewelry will be stamped, however.  The jewelry that I fabricate will not come with a 925 stamp because I do not have the equipment to stamp such fine detail onto my finished pieces, but I guarantee that any jewelry I sell that is listed as sterling silver will indeed be sterling silver.

What is Fine Silver?

Fine silver is considered "pure" silver because it contains 99.9% silver with the balance being trace amounts of impurities.  Fine silver is softer and generally used for bezel settings or plating.  Fine silver doesn't tarnish as easily as sterling silver and is also referred to by a 999 stamp.

What is Argentium® Silver?

Argentium® Silver presents a bright white color to your finished piece similar to traditional sterling silver and it is highly resistant to tarnishing.   It is made with 93.5% silver with a touch of germanium in contrast to sterling silver which is only 92.5% silver with a touch of copper.  Argentium® Silver is still considered sterling silver, even though it contains slightly more silver.  All Argentium is made from reclaimed silver and its sources are guaranteed by Argentium International Ltd.

What is Continuum® Sterling Silver?

Continuum® Sterling Silver is a proprietary alloy of more than 95% precious metal content.  It contains no nickel, is a Grade 1 white, is tarnish-resistant and is harder than standard sterling silver.  It wears similar to 14K gold.  Standard sterling silver is rather soft in comparison to other precious metals so jewelry made from sterling silver tends to show wear marks rather easily. Continuum® Sterling Silver is a really nice alloy that affords the beauty of a bright white precious metal that holds up well during wear. 

What is German Silver?

German Silver doesn't contain any silver at all.  It can be very misleading because of the name.  Other terms used are "nickel silver" or "Alpaca".  I do not sell any items made of German silver.


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Belle and Dandy ™ is a family owned and operated jewelry business that's been making and selling jewelry since 2007. We are proud to live and work in the USA and are grateful to the many veterans and service men and women who have made it possible for us to be here today. We are also animal lovers and share our home with many rescued pets. Read more

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