Sterling Silver versus Silver Filled

Sterling silver is 92.5% pure and is usually alloyed with copper. It's been used since the late 10th century in jewelry, currency, and other applications.

With the ever increasing price of precious metals, most notably gold and silver, many artisans are turning to other metals in order to keep their jewellery affordable for their customers.

One product that has been receiving a lot of attention is silver-filled wire and findings.  Just exactly what is it, and how does it compare to sterling silver?

For comparison, think of the gold-filled jewellery that we have all been buying for years.  When solid gold is out of our price range, gold-filled is a more than acceptable substitute.

You can think of silver-filled the same way.  It is either a 5% or 10% layer of durable sterling silver bonded to (filled with) a copper-alloy or brass-alloy centre.  It is definitely not the same thing as silver-plated, which is a very thin layer of silver laid on top of a copper-alloy core.  To show you the difference, look at this picture below:


The wire on the left is silver-filled (much thicker layer of sterling) and the wire on the right is silver-plated.  Because of it's thin coating, the silver on silver-plated metals can wear off over time, and is easy to nick while working with it or wearing it, causing the core metal to show.

This does not happen with silver-filled metals.  The bonded layer is thick enough to withstand small nicks, and it will never wear off.  If you are allergic to silver-plate but are able to wear sterling silver, you should also be able to wear silver-filled without causing an allergic reaction.

It does make silver jewellery much more affordable!  Silver-filled is a great alternative to sterling silver for the budget-conscious buyer, and it is just as pretty and durable.

For artisans working with silver-filled wire, it behaves much the same as sterling silver.  It can be soldered, hammered, polished, tumbled, and oxidized with the same results as sterling.

Please note:  All our items that are stamped 925 may be either sterling silver or silver filled.  Unfortunately we have no way of knowing which of the two it may be.