Why Isn’t My Bracelet Pure Silver?

by ClearanceCharms

The idea of having a pure silver piece of jewelry is better than actually having it.

Unlike other many other 100% solid metals, pure silver is incredibly malleable and ductile.  In its pure form, it’s able to be shaped and played with in a way that doesn’t require excessive power and energy.  Hand tools can be used to shape silver whereas powered tools are needed to harder base metals like steel.

Because silver is a soft base metal and incredibly malleable in its pure form, small amounts of harder metals like copper are added to increase its strength.  Stronger silver is important for jewelry and makes pieces like bracelets, necklaces, and earring last longer.

How much of Sterling Silver is … Silver?

By definition, sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver.  The other 7.5% is other metal, usually a stronger metal like copper.  Through years of experiments by jewelry designers and manufacturers, this has proven to be the best ratio of silver to non-silver.  The ratio maintains the shiny vitality of the silver and makes items like jewelry stronger.

In the jewelry biz, sterling silver is often referred to as “925 silver,” which makes sense, given the silver to non-metal ratio.

The “925” that defines the silver is part of something called the millesimal fineness system.  Many European jewelers use this system for their marking system whereas many jewelers in the United States and United Kingdom use the karat system.  Like the “925” associated with sterling silver the millesimal fineness system defines precious metals with three numbers.

What’s the Purpose of Mixing Metals?

The main purpose is to make softer base metals like silver and gold stronger.  Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a way of sparring silver for reasons related to thriftiness.  If that were the case, that 7.5% would increase significantly.

Because silver is relatively weak, it’s made into an alloy with copper and other metals.  An alloy is simply a mixture of two or more metals.  With sterling silver, it’s silver and often copper – a powerful combination that’s used to make jewelry similar to Pandora silver bracelets and other fashion items.

When buying jewelry, always be aware of its metal ratio or number associated to it based on the millesimal fineness system.  This way, you’ll always know what you’re getting and know the strength of the jewelry.


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