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What's the Difference Between Sterling Silver and Pure Silver?

Did you ever think about what real sterling silver is? Did you think sterling silver and regular silver were the same thing? Well, they are actually two distinct materials with different make-ups, care techniques, lifespans, and prices. 

Silver items have long been known as a symbol of affluence. This is true whether you own sterling silver or pure silver, since most times you can’t tell the difference just by looking at it. However, there is a CONSIDERABLE DIFFERENCE

PaulaMax Sterling SIlver Promise Ring


Silver is known on the periodic table as Ag. Any time an item is characterized as pure silver, it means it is as purely silver as you can get. The item's make up is 99.9% pure elemental silver. Pure silver is soft, which means that pure silver items are NOT AS DURABLEThey easily bend and get damaged more quickly - which is usually why it is not used to make jewelry items. Pure silver also tarnishes quickly. This is due to the gasses and fluids in the air and/or on the human body reacting with the silver; which results with discoloration and fading. It gives the silver a film of cloudiness, making it look dirty and not shiny.  

Sterling silver is not as pure as pure silver, but it is not far off. Sterling silver is a metal alloy. This means that sterling silver is a combination of metals instead of just one single metal. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy - other symbols are “925” or “.925”. Sterling silver is easier to shape and is used more when creating jewelry. Some items are known as “sterling silver plated” items. This means that the piece itself is coated with another metal. The added durability means it won’t get  damaged as quickly by everyday use and normal wear and tear. 

For example, all of our PaulaMax Jewelry is thickly coated with rhodium plating. We plate our jewelry because most people don't have the time or forget to take their jewelry off before showering, washing dishes, putting on lotion, or sweating; which therefore, will ruin the piece. 

The first reason is durabilitySterling silver is MUCH MORE DURABLE compared to pure silver. The mixture of metals as well as a coating helps the piece last longer and stay looking clean and fresh. 

Another reason is cost. Pure silver is more expensive than sterling silver (since it is less pure). However, sterling silver looks just as good (maybe even better than pure silver) which means you can get pieces at a more reasonable price. 

Sterling silver is way more durable than pure silver! Pure silver tarnishes so quickly if not cared for properly. You literally cannot sweat, wear lotion, go near water, wash your hands, or take a shower with pure silver on because it will discolor your skin and tarnish VERY FAST! Sterling silver does not tarnish as fast and you can indeed wash your hands, put on lotion, do your day to day activities and still have a perfectly intact, shiny ring!  

At PaulaMax Jewelry we use a thick rhodium plating, which gives it that smooth, shiny white gold color. In the five year we have been in business, we have only had to warranty 4 pieces ever for “tarnish” issues.

We also include a FREE 3 year warranty on all metals and stones for every piece of jewelry we offer! Whether you are in need of a promise ring, a Mother's ring, an engagement ring or a necklace, we have exactly what you are looking for!