Silver jewelry is beautiful and offers a great alternative to gold for people that are allergic to the metal or prefer the look of silver over gold. It is important to understand the differences in silver when you are buying though. Low-quality silvers may look good, but they are more prone to tarnish and deteriorate over time.
The purest form of silver, Fine Silver, is .999 pure silver or 99.9 percent silver. It is soft and pliable so it is easy to work with, but it is also prone to scratching and damage over time. The finish on fine silver is a little duller than some silvers but it would be hard to distinguish from other silvers at a glance. Polishing it is possible but the finish will remain slightly more gray in color than some other silvers.
Fine silver is used for necklaces, earrings, and other jewelry that is less prone to banging on things. Because it is soft, it is easy to repair but it is also easy to damage so the use of fine silver is not as common as one might think in jewelry. Fine silver will carry a stamp of .999 or .999FS to indicate it's quality.
The most commonly used silver for jewelry in the United States, sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper or nickel. The addition of the copper or nickel to the silver means it is a little harder and will stand up to daily wear and tear better in jewelry.
The shine of Sterling silver is brighter because of the additional metal and while it is not hard to work with, it does require more effort to form, fuse, and bend, then fine silver. The quality stamp used on sterling silver is .925 and sometimes it will say sterling silver on it.
Other Silver Jewelry
There are some generic silver jewelry products on the market that will not define the amount of silver in them. These items often use silver that is cast off from other products and the quality is extremely hard to determine. Commonly this jewelry is market as simply silver and is not high quality and is best avoided if you are buying silver jewelry.
Be cautious about silver plated jewelry. While the plating is often fine silver, it is so thin that the percentage of silver is hard to measure. Over time the plating will wear off, exposing the base metal underneath, and the silver is very likely to tarnish over time. Silver plating is often used on costume jewelry and inexpensive trinkets found in discount stores, not in a jewelers display case.
Check out a jewelry company, like MMP Jewelry, to learn more.