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How well do you know your silver?

Updated: May 16

Did you know there are three "varieties" of silver commonly found in jewellery: fine silver, Sterling Silver and Argentium. But what's the difference and should you care what you wear?

First, lets look at fine silver. Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver. It has a beautiful lustre but being very soft it can deform and scratch easily. Therefore, it's used when the item of jewellery is away from normal wear and tear e.g. as an earring, a woven necklace or as an adornment to another piece of jewellery.

Next there's Sterling Silver. Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver, and is an alloy, with another metal, usually copper, making up the difference. It's the copper that give's Sterling it's hardness to withstand the occasional knock, which makes Sterling ideal for everyday jewellery. However, it can scratch and it will tarnish in time.

Finally there's Argentium. Argentium is also an alloy of silver but it has a higher silver content: 93.5%, 94% or 96% silver. The amount of copper that is added is reduced and small amounts of germanium is added. This makes Argentium silver harder than Sterling, it appears whiter and brighter and is more scratch and tarnish resistant. It is though more expensive.

All three are considered to be hypoallergenic but if you can't wear Sterling Silver then Argentium is a better choice.

And what about silver plated jewellery? This is where a very thin layer of silver, typically Sterling Silver or a lower grade of silver, is coated onto the surface of a base metal such as copper, nickel or brass. Because there is far less silver, plated silver jewellery is much cheaper but more care is required when wearing and cleaning so as not to remove the silver surface and expose the base metal.

Sleek Silver Jewellery only uses Fine Silver, Sterling Silver and Argentium in its jewellery, sourced from reputable bullion suppliers.

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