Pure Silver vs. Sterling Silver: What Are the Differences?

Pure Silver Vs. Sterling Silver

Gold, silver, and platinum form part of the prestigious noble metals. First discovered by the Greeks, silver continues to be a popular choice for gift-giving and silverware craftsmanship throughout the world. But during the 12th century, the English made a new form of silver: sterling silver. 

Is sterling silver and pure silver the same? The quick answer is no. But let’s dive a little further into the differences, then you can decide which one best suits your needs.

Pure Silver 

Pure silver consists of 99.9% silver and 00.1% trace element (trace element means traces of other metallic elements). Most jewelry pieces will not have pure silver since it is a lot softer, meaning it’s not very durable. 


Since it is a pure form of a noble metal, pure silver is bound to be a lot more expensive. One other reason is what we had mentioned before, the softness. Since it’s soft, it takes a lot more work to be able to form certain jewelry.


Pure silver can tarnish, but not as easily as other metals. It can tarnish when it comes into touch with sulfur, which is in the air. The good news is that there are plenty of products that can remove the tarnish.


Pure silver is hypoallergenic (does not cause an allergic reaction). If you would get an allergic reaction, then it’s not pure silver. That is why it’s necessary to see the percentage of purity when buying silver. 

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver is an alloy (a form of fusing metals) with copper or other metals. That means that sterling silver is usually 92.5% silver and 7.5% trace elements. This alloy makes sterling silver very durable, which is why most jewelers make necklaces from it. You can find many styles of necklaces at https://www.dreamlandjewelry.com/collections/silver-necklaces



Since it’s mixed with other elements, sterling silver comes at a more affordable price tag. It is also highly malleable (easily given shape), which means you can have it custom shaped to almost anything with no extra cost.


Since it has other metallic elements, sterling silver can tarnish a lot easier. It can tarnish not only by the air but also when it comes into contact with water. Luckily, just like pure silver, there are plenty of products that remove any traces of tarnish. 


Unfortunately, a lot of jewelers use nickel in sterling silver. Nickel is one of the most frequent metals that cause an allergic reaction. Be sure to check what alloy did the manufacturer used before buying sterling silver. 

Sterling Silver vs. Pure Silver—Which One Will You Buy?

As you have seen, the difference between sterling silver and pure silver is relatively small. So it comes down to how much you are willing to pay for a piece of jewelry. Of course, it is essential to note that whether you buy pure or sterling silver, you buy it from a reputable jeweler, as many may sell nickel as silver.

If you enjoy reading about jewelry, check out our other posts today!

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About the Author: Rene Bennett

Rene Bennett is a graduate of New Jersey, where he played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Zobuz’s Editor, he enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Buzz worthy.


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