Silver is perfect for jewelry manufacture since it is soft, malleable, and takes an extremely high polish. In fact, silver is the most highly reflective of all metals. Its beauty, availability, and affordability make it the mainstay of fashion and design throughout the world.
Silver, like gold, can be found in more than one form, and as such, has standards to define its purity.
Generally, a small amount of alloy is added to silver to help lessen tarnish and provide increased durability. Copper is the mainstay of silver alloys, but considerably smaller percentages of other metals are often present. Silver purity, like that of platinum, is expressed with a decimal number that indicates the amount of pure silver in parts per thousand. Silver standards vary around the world, but there are four that should be of interest to consumers:
|Fine Silver||.999||99.9% Pure Silver|
|Britannia Silver||.958||95.8% Pure Silver|
|Sterling Silver||.925||92.5% Pure Silver|
|Coin Silver||.900||90.0% Pure Silver|
The small amount of copper added to sterling silver has little effect on the value. Instead, the price of silver items is affected by the labour and craftsmanship involved in finishing an item.