Silver is a timeless and versatile metal. This cool-toned metal has been used in jewelry for centuries and still remains popular today. But not all silver jewelry is the same.
There are different types of silver, which are known as grades. Each grade of silver varies in price, color, composition, and durability. Learn more about the different types of silver used in jewelry, from pure silver to alloys mixed with other metals.
The Composition of Silver
Pure silver is a soft, precious metal that has a bright white luster. It’s made of 99.9% silver and 0.1% elements, such as oxygen and chlorine. In its natural form, silver is unlikely to tarnish, but it’s prone to scratches. So, silver jewelry is usually made of a silver alloy, which is pure silver mixed with other metals.
When silver is alloyed with other metals like zinc or copper, it can change the metal’s properties, sometimes making it more durable and scratch-resistant. We’ll cover the various silver grades found in jewelry so you can make an informed decision when purchasing silver pieces for your jewelry collection.
4 Types of Silver Found in Jewelry
Learn about the differences between sterling silver, fine silver, Britannia silver, and Argentium silver.
1. Sterling Silver
Sterling silver is a popular silver alloy used in jewelry made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. Sterling is a favorite of jewelers and designers because it’s easy to work with and affordable. To determine if a piece of jewelry is made of sterling silver, look for a “925” stamp somewhere on the piece.
Sterling has a high strength-to-weight ratio, meaning it’s lightweight, yet unlikely to break. This metal easily withstands everyday wear without losing its shape or shine. However, sterling silver is more prone to tarnishing than pure silver because of its copper content. But don’t worry—it’s easy to clean your tarnished sterling silver jewelry in a few simple steps.
2. Fine Silver
Fine silver, or pure silver, is the most valuable form of silver. It contains 99.9% silver and is known for its high luster and lack of tarnish. Fine silver jewelry will usually have a “999” or “FS” mark somewhere on the piece.
Because pure silver is more malleable and expensive than other silver alloys, it’s not commonly used in jewelry. Historically, fine silver was molded into coinage or even silverware.
3. Britannia Silver
Britannia silver is a type of sterling silver made in the United Kingdom. It's also sometimes called British silver. Britannia silver has been around since 1697 when it was first introduced in England by the Act of Parliament.
Britannia silver has a high silver content of 95.8% and around 4.2% copper. It’s most frequently seen in items like coins or tableware pieces, but some antique pieces of silver jewelry are made of Britannia Silver. To identify this historic alloy, look for a “958” marker on the piece.
4. Argentium Silver
Argentium silver is a modern brand of silver alloys patented in 1998 by a silversmith named Peter Johns. They contain either 93.5% or 96% silver and a combination of 3-5.5% copper and 1% metalloid germanium. To identify Argentium silver, it’s marked with a “925”, “935”, or “960” mark and the unique Winged Unicorn Trademark.
Because of the germanium and low copper content, Argentium silver is incredibly tarnish-resistant. While it’s more resistant to tarnish, Argentium silver is pricier than sterling silver because of the costly raw materials needed to make it.
Discover Sterling Silver Jewelry Designed for Daily Wear
Whether made into bangles or rings, sterling silver jewelry is affordable and long-lasting. Loved for its bright, shiny appearance, there are so many different ways to style and wear silver.
Discover our entire collection of Sterling Silver Jewelry and find modern styles that are effortless and timeless. From simple stacking rings to classic hoop earrings, shop our ever-changing styles and silhouettes made in this durable metal.