Who is Sterling, and why is his silver so popular?
Who is sterling? And what is the difference with sterling silver and plain ole silver? We have often been asked about silver, it's properties, popularity, and everything in between. So let's start from the beginning. Silver, abbreviated Ag on the periodic table, is a naturally occurring metal. In its purest form, silver is soft, very malleable, and easily damaged, and so to be used for jewellerymaking, is alloyed with other metals, most commonly, copper. This helps with the durability, much like gold is alloyed with other metals. Other metals can be used for alloying purposes, however copper is primarily used as the shine and colour of silver is maintained while improving its durability. Sterling Silver, so named as the Brits were paid in Esterling coins from Germany in the twelfth century, and based on the quality decided to adopt this as the standard for British coins. 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper is the standard for .925 or sterling silver! In the jewellery industry the mark .925, 92.5, or sterling is used to denote this combination. Fashion jewellery or other items simply called silver is ambiguous since it does not specify the ratio of metals used in the alloy. Fine silver is 99.9% silver, American Coin Silver is 90% silver, and Continental Silver, which is used in tableware and hollowware, is 80% silver. These are the international standards for articles, including jewellery, that are made using precious metals.