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What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling Silver rounds and bars laid across a surface.

What is the Difference Between Sterling Silver and Fine Silver?

Sterling silver is an alloy with a silver purity of 92.5%, which is commonly expressed as 925. The remaining 7.5% is often copper, but other metals like zinc and nickel may be used.

Sterling silver is different from pure silver or fine silver in terms of purity, price, and strength.

Fine Silver is silver with a 99.9% purity or greater. This is sometimes called three-nines fine silver. The International Standards Organization (ISO) set the standard for fine silver.

Sterling silver is stronger and less expensive than fine silver because of its lower purity.

The Uses of Sterling Silver

Fine silver is naturally soft. Because other metals reinforce it within the alloy, 925 silver, or sterling silver, is more robust than fine silver and is thus better suited for making durable goods and wares.

This strength and affordability lend themselves to various applications, including flatware, jewelry, tableware, electronics, and photography.

Sterling silver is easier to solder than fine silver because fine silver melts at lower temperatures, making it exceedingly difficult to solder.

If you have sterling silver items, it is important to store them in a cool, dark place and use a polishing cloth to prevent tarnish from forming. While sterling silver is stronger than fine silver, it can still dent and scratch, so it is important to handle it with care.

How to Tell Sterling Silver from Fine Silver

If you are unsure whether an item is sterling silver or fine silver, look for the fineness mark, represented by at least 3 digits. Sterling silver will have a 925, while fine silver will have a 999, 9999, or even 99999. If there is a 900 mark, this is coin silver, also called junk silver and sometimes constitutional silver.

Other metals in the sterling silver alloy can alter the color. Alloys that use copper will have a reddish tint, for example. Some sterling silver is rhodium-plated or nickel-plated to prevent tarnishing and present a brighter, whiter appearance.

Quick Guides to Investing

Step 1:

Why Buy Physical Gold and Silver?

If you are concerned about the volatility of the stock market, you’re not alone. The extreme highs and lows of the stock market often lead investors towards safe-haven assets, like bullion. Historically, the Precious Metals market has an inverse relationship with the stock market, meaning that when stocks are up, bullion is down and vice versa.

Step 2:

How Much Gold and Silver Should You Have?

This question is one of the most important for investors to answer. After all, experts suggest limits on how much of any types of investments should go into a portfolio. After deciding to purchase and own Precious Metals and considering how much money to allocate, one can then think about how much and what to buy at any point in time.

Step 3:

Which Precious Metals Should I Buy?

With the frequent changes in the market and countless Precious Metal products available, choosing investments can be difficult. Some want Gold or Silver coins, rounds or bars while others want products that are valuable because of their design, mintage or other collectible qualities. Also, collectors may shop for unique sets and individual pieces for their collections.

Step 4:

When to Buy Gold & Silver

After considering why, how much, and what Precious Metals products to buy, an investor’s next step is when to buy them. This decision requires an understanding of market trends and the impact of economic factors on precious metal prices.

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