Types and grades of silver

used in jewelry

Silver is one of the most valuable metals in the world. It is not by chance that silver has been valued for several thousand years for its beauty and usefulness. Due to its properties, since ancient times it has played a crucial role in many areas of society. But there are many questions. What do we know about silver and its properties? What kinds exist? Which types of silver are the best? We suggest that you get acquainted with the metal that jewelers so love to use when creating their unique jewelry.


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Sterling Silver Jewelry by BlackTreeLab


Probably many people do not realize that there are several, and we would even say, many kinds of silver. Let's look at the main types of this popular metal.

1. Silver 999 grade - Pure Silver

You might think the jewelry you wear is made of pure silver, but that's a delusion. Silver of 999 samples is 99.9% pure metal and 0.1%, as you might have guessed, other impurities. So it turns out that even this kind is not 100% silver.

It may seem like the best kind of silver, but we have to upset you. We should not forget that silver is a rather soft metal and therefore silver of 999 samples scratches, there are dents on it and it easily changes its shape when exposed to heat. This type of silver is virtually never used for jewelry making (sometimes you can occasionally find earrings or pendants). Where then is it used? The answer is simple - for making silver ingots.

2. Silver 925 grade - Sterling Silver

This is the kind of silver that is most often used in jewelry, and all because it is hard enough and holds its shape well. It's called sterling silver. This alloy has been used since the early 12th century by the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and other countries.

It is called 925 because the alloy has 92.5% silver in its composition and the rest is copper or other metals such as nickel. As a result of these metals being added, it increases the strength and durability of the product and there is an unique shine and color that attracts everyone. Silver 925 grade also has another name - Sterling Silver. The main story is that the silver was named this way because of the Norman penny, which was engraved with small stars (steorling) in the XIV century.

Despite all the advantages, do not forget that sterling silver is not the strongest alloy, so you should wear jewelry carefully. Jewelry may fade with time, but this is easy to fix with polishing agents which are not too difficult to buy, or they can be entrusted to professionals for cleaning.


Sterling Silver Moonstone Engagement ring
Sterling Silver ring

3. Argentium Silver

This alloy contains 92.5% silver, as does Sterling Silver. But then what's the difference?

  • The mixture of Argentium Silver contains Copper and Germanium. It is the Germanium that makes this alloy harder and, more importantly, more resistant to tarnish;

  • The price. Yes, Argentium is much more expensive than sterling silver and less available for purchase.

4. Coin Silver

This alloy has a grade of 900 and consists of 90% silver and 10% copper. The name "Coin silver" may be a little confusing, but it is important to look at historical facts. Previously, masters working with metal, used to make products from old molten coins. Which, historically, were made of better quality metal than now. 900 grade is usually to be found in the market of silver jewelry and these items are generally antiques.

5. German Silver. Nickel Silver. Alpaca

The German Silver grades are available in two types - 800 or 835. German Silver consists of 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc. Where is the silver? Well, it just doesn't exist!

Silver is also missing in “Nickel Silver” and “Alpaca”.
Alpaca is an alloy of copper, iron and zinc. It's used to make jewelry & necklaces.
Nickel Silver is an alloy of copper with nickel or zinc. Externally, of course, it looks like Sterling Silver, but there is no silver metal in the composition.

6. Tibetan or Tribal Silver

The composition of Tibetan Silver is copper, nickel or tin, although the composition may vary greatly. But there is usually still silver here (though not always)! There is very little silver included enough to call Tibetan Silver jewelry actually silver. Exotic Tibetan or Tribal Silver jewelry has an aged appearance, but the composition may contain dangerous metals, such as lead, so this jewelry should be bought carefully and not given to children.

We hope it is now clearer as to which types of Silver exist. Let's look at the pros and cons of each of the Silver grades:

Silver 999 grade
Silver 925 grade
Argentium Silver
Coin Silver German Silver, Nickel Silver, AlpacaTibetan
Pure silver;

Suitable for jewelry making;
Has a shine;
Usually hypoallergenic
Doesn't fade; Long-lasting;
Good Mix
Reasonable price

Reasonable price 

It's not solid;
It's scratchy;
Losing its shape. 
It fades
Requires care.

High price
Rarely seen;
It fades.

Has no silver in it;
Non- hypoallergenic

Contains almost no silver (or no silver at all);
Non- hypoallergenic;
Not long-lasting.

It is worth saying that on the Internet you can find various other types of silver. But, now you know that not everything that is called silver has this metal in it, you can be careful when choosing your silver jewelry and not to buy products from dubious manufacturers.


Before you see the silver jewelry on sale, it will go through many stages of processing. Silver must be mined from deep deposits, brought to the surface and processed before it can be sold on the market. Of course, it is not surprising that the metal did not come out of thin air. But how is it mined?

There are many technologies for extracting silver, but they all involve extracting ore from deposits. Silver ore can be strong, consisting of solid nuggets, but it can also be found in large deposits of sand, gravel and other minerals.

Where is silver extracted?

Mexico, Peru, Poland, Norway, Canada and the USA are the leaders in silver mining. Interesting fact, the oldest operating silver mines are in Peru and Norway.


Silver-filled, silver plated... You may not know these names. What are they? What's the difference? Let's try to explain it in simple terms.

Silver-filled is a so-called "filled silver", consisting of a hollow form, which is filled with a metal alloy, and the top is covered with a thick enough layer of silver. Only 925 samples are used for the coating.

Silver plated is a base coating made of non-precious metal with a thin layer of silver. The thickness of silver in these products is not subject to any standard, so the silver layer is likely to be very thin.

This means, these are two kinds of silver plating. Silver plated will not last at all, as the coating will be quickly erased and the jewelry will never look like the day you bought it. Unlike just silver plated fittings, silver-filled is a much better style. It does not wear out as easily, doesn't darken and doesn't look much different from normal silver. But do not forget that silver-filled jewelry is only covered with silver.


Sterling Silver (925 grade) is an excellent option for making any jewelry as it is both long-lasting and durable. As a result the majority of silver jewelry is made from it. Although, it is necessary to understand that silver accessories still require care, otherwise they can fade.

Argentium Silver is also great for making jewelry. As already mentioned, this type has the same composition as sterling silver. The main advantage is that over time this kind of silver will not fade as much. The disadvantage is that it is difficult to find, and it also comes at a high cost.


Sterling Silver (925 grade) is an excellent option for making any jewelry as it is both long-lasting and durable.


Silver is a beautiful and delicate metal. To give an original look to your silver jewelry and protect it from darkening, craftsmen use oxidation of products or rhodium coating.

Oxidized Silver is a coating with a thin layer of oxide that protects the silver jewelry from oxidation. Jewelry Masters often oxidize handmade products not only to prevent oxidation, but also to create a spectacular appearance for the jewelry. We are very fond of this method, the jewelry really looks unusual and fascinating, oxidizing can add highlights to the relief and also adds contrast.

Silver Rhodium Plating is a thin layer of rhodium (a metal from the platinum group) applied to silver. Rhodium can be white or black.

White rhodium is mainly used in covering white gold jewelry to hide the yellow tint. For those who like white and bright silver, this coating is the ideal choice. White rhodium completely covers the entire product and remains unchanged.

Black rhodium has the same function as oxidation. But black rhodium can cover not only silver jewelry, but gold as well. In contrast to white rhodium, first the whole piece of jewelry is covered with black rhodium, and then the master polished some parts until bright parts appreat to emphasize its relief and give it an unusual appearance.

So, Silver is a beautiful metal with its many features and differences of use. Thousands of years ago people used silver and it has not lost its relevance, even now. It is one of the main jewelry materials that will please both men and women with its elegance and appeal.

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