Which is Better Silver or Sterling Silver?

Silverware has been a symbol of elegance and achievement for a long time. It does not make a difference whether you have sterling silver or pure silver; it is difficult to determine the purity of either one just by looking at it. Let’s take a deeper look at how these two types of material are distinct.

There are two distinct kinds of materials: sterling and non-sterling, and they have entirely different chemical makeups, maintenance procedures, and lifespans.

Which is Better, Silver or Sterling Silver?

Pure silver is better as precious physical metal because it has more excellent value in dollars than sterling silver. However, in the jewelry industry, sterling silver is better because sterling silver is easier to process and create quality jewelry.

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Sterling silver is worth less than pure silver, but it is almost impossible to create quality flatware and jewelry with pure silver because it is too soft.  You can read our article about sterling silver flatware worth. Due to their brittle nature, pure precious metals are seldom used in jewelry-making since alloying them makes them more durable. This means that sterling silver is a superior metal for both producing and assembling a jewelry collection.

If you are an investor in silver and want to buy physical silver, you can read our different article where we made a list of all shops in the US where you can buy silver.

What is pure silver?

Silver or “pure silver” or “fine silver” represents precious metal silver that is 99.9 percent pure. Silver is an element from the periodic system with the symbol Ag.  Because pure silver is so fragile and difficult to work with, it is not often used in manufacturing products intended for frequent use or intricate decorations. Therefore, it is not a material that is often used when the goal is to create attractive or delicate jewelry.

Products made using fine silver are not as long-lasting as those made with sterling silver because fine silver is softer. Due to its malleability and ease of bending, twisting, and breaking,  silver is often reserved for use in the production of beautiful jewelry such as:

  • Tarnish

Even silver may get a tarnished appearance over time. Discoloration, fading, and what seems to be a “filthy” coating may develop on the surface of silver objects due to the reaction between silver and the gases in the air.

Pure silver is more resistant to tarnishing than sterling silver. As previously discussed, silver may tarnish when exposed to the elements. Sterling silver, on the other hand, is more susceptible to staining because of the alloy metals it contains. It is easy to tarnish copper, nickel, and zinc. When silver or another tarnish-prone metal is added, the tarnishing process is accelerated and made more likely.

  • Stamp

In addition, the silver may be marked in some way to demonstrate that it is fine silver. To be considered fine silver, the silver content must be at least 99.9 percent, and the stamp that identifies it will typically read “999,” “.999,” or “99.9.”

  • Gold-Plated

If “fine silver,” which is also known as “pure silver,” is the purest form of silver, then it comes to reason that “sterling silver,” which is extremely close in proximity to “pure silver,” is not comparatively as pure as fine silver.

  • Makeup using Chemicals

Metal alloys are used to make sterling silver. To put it another way, sterling silver is a mix of metals rather than just one (like with pure silver, for example). Only 7.5 percent of the alloy used to create sterling silver is silver. It is common for this 7.5 percent to be made of copper or zinc.

Silver can be used:

  • Jewelry
  • Silverware
  • Plates
  • Platters
  • Cups of Coffee

Observe the final usage of silver-plated objects in the list above; anything described as “silver-plated” usually signifies that the thing is constructed of another metal and only “plated” with sterling silver in a thin coating.

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The list of applications for sterling silver is also far more extensive than fine silver, which is another thing to keep in mind. That’s because sterling silver is more durable than fine silver, so it won’t become dented or scratched by normal wear and tear.

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver represents alloy from 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent other metals, mainly copper. Jewelry makers choose sterling silver because it is more durable than silver. Jewelers like the silver alloy because of its workability and long-term stability.

One of the best options for jewelry collectors and creators alike is sterling silver, which has 92.5 percent silver content. When purchasing sterling silver jewelry sets from a respected jeweler or jewelry manufacturer, you can expect them to endure a long time. You can read our article about Brighton jewelry to learn more about high-quality silver rings. The more you wear sterling silver jewelry, the less likely it is to get tarnished and dusty. Wearing silver or gold jewelry daily extends the life of these precious metals, so go ahead and stock up on sterling silver now, knowing that it will still look fabulous in ten years.

Is Sterling silver costly because of its rarity?

As a rule, sterling silver is more costly than flash-plated jewelry because it contains more precious metals (92.5 percent). There are several reasons why people purchase sterling silver, including its worth as a precious metal, its beauty, and its price. Sterling silver is the minor costly metal for heirloom-quality jewelry that may be handed down from one generation to the next, even though more expensive metals like gold and platinum are durable and are great investments. Sterling silver retains and increases in value over time as an excellent metal for accumulating a jewelry collection.

By U.S. law, one must identify sterling silver jewelry with the 925 stamps if it contains more than 92.5 percent silver. Typically, this mark may be discovered on a sterling item beneath clasps, within rings, or on inconspicuous edges that are not apparent while worn. The word “silver” is commonly used to refer to flash-plated silver over brass rather than sterling silver.

Sterling silver offers a few advantages over fine silver that may persuade you to buy sterling silver.

The price is the most apparent consideration. Fine silver is more costly because it has a more excellent silver purity percentage than sterling silver, which is less pure. Sterling silver, on the other hand, has a similar luster to fine silver and is thus a more inexpensive option for classic jewelry.

Then there’s the issue of longevity. Compared to fine silver, Sterling Silver is substantially more durable due to its alloys. This may extend the life of your item and keep it looking its finest for longer. Because sterling silver is more pliable and simpler to work with than fine silver, you’ll have more possibilities if you stick with sterling silver.


Taking a few easy steps may extend the life of pure silver and sterling silver objects.

It would help if you were incredibly cautious while handling pure silver. As a result of its fragility and brittleness, exquisite silver jewelry should only be used sparingly and with care. Whether pure or sterling silver, keep it in the dark, dry area. We may also use anti-tarnish solutions and a soft cloth to clean silver.


Sterling silver and pure silver are two forms of silver, but which is better for your needs depends on several factors, including the item you plan to buy, the amount of money you have available, and even your tastes.

Daniel Smith
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Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is an experienced economist and financial analyst from Utah. He has been in finance for nearly two decades, having worked as a senior analyst for Wells Fargo Bank for 19 years. After leaving Wells Fargo Bank in 2014, Daniel began a career as a finance consultant, advising companies and individuals on economic policy, labor relations, and financial management. At Nimblefreelancer.com, Daniel writes about personal finance topics, value estimation, budgeting strategies, retirement planning, and portfolio diversification. Read more on Daniel Smith's biography page. Contact Daniel: daniel@nimblefreelancer.com

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