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Silver Plated vs Sterling Silver: What’s the Difference?

Silver plated and sterling silver, there are key differences between these two metals that give them each their own features. Discovering the benefits of both metals could help you make the choice as to which is the best for you.

What is Silver Plated?

Silver plated refers to jewellery created by covering a base metal, such as copper or brass, in a very thin layer of sterling silver. The coating can be anywhere from 1 micron to 10 microns thick. This base metal can be more affordable than sterling silver or pure silver, which in turn can lead to a more affordable piece of silver jewellery.

This method of coating a base material with a valuable metal is also seen in gold plated and gold vermeil. Both of which use different plating techniques to coat base metals with gold.

the differences between silver plated and sterling silver
what is silver plated?

Is Silver Plated Real Silver?

As silver plated jewellery consists of two parts, it does contain real silver, despite not being 100% so. In this way plated silver is real, but only its coating and not its core.

How Long Does Silver Plated Jewellery Last?

As silver plated jewellery only has a thin layer of silver bonded to its surface, it can be scratched or tarnished easily. However, with proper care and jewellery cleaning, you could see silver plated pieces last for a long time. A key difference between silver plated vs sterling silver is that tarnishes can be easily cleaned out of sterling silver, but not so easily with silver plated.

How to Clean Silver

When cleaning silver plated jewellery you want to be gentle, so as not to wear away the silver coating. There are a few ways in which to clean this type of silver:

Take a mild soap in warm water

Place your silver rings, bracelets, or necklaces in for a few minutes

Taking the pieces out of the water, rub gentle with a soft cloth to remove any surface markings

Rinse again in warm water

Dry your silver plated before putting it back safely in your jewellery box

For less intensive cleaning, simply take a soft jewellery polishing cloth and gently rub away any dirt or debris. For pieces, such as earrings, that house beautiful gemstones it's best not to submerge them in water as it can loosen the gems causing them to fall out.

what’s better for jewellery silver plated or sterling silver?
silver plated is a thin layer of silver over an affordable metal

Everything You Need to Know About Sterling Silver

Sterling silver jewellery differs from silver plated in what it is made of. Sterling silver is an alloy, made of 92.5% pure silver, and 7.5% other alloy. These other alloys tend to be copper or zinc. Due to the pure silver constitution, sterling silver is often known as 925 silver.

Silver Plated vs Sterling Silver: 6 Key Differences

When comparing silver plated vs sterling silver, there are many differences between the two:

Base metal - Silver plated has a base metal vs sterling silver which does not.

Irritability - silver plated vs sterling silver can have a significant difference for those with allergies. As the plated version often contains nickel, it can irritate the skin more than sterling silver. Choose hypoallergenic sterling silver for irritation free wear!

Colour - there are commonly subtle differences in colour between silver plated vs sterling silver. Plated often has a lighter tone than sterling silver.

Durability - because sterling silver is crafted from a metal alloy, rather than a coating, it is often more durable than its plated counterpart.

Weight - sterling silver pieces tend to be lighter vs silver plated, as the base metal weighs plated pieces down.

Durability - in the comparison of silver plated vs sterling silver, sterling silver is more durable as the coating of plated silver can wear off with improper care.

How to Tell Silver Plated and Sterling Silver Apart

If you're looking to tell silver plated vs sterling silver apart, there are a few simple ways. The easiest being to check for an authenticity stamp. Real sterling silver usually has a '925' or 'sterling' stamp, often on the inside of rings or on the fastening of necklaces. Other than this, pay close attention to the weight as you should be able to feel a difference between silver plated vs sterling silver, with the former being heavier. Finally, if you've been wearing a piece for a while and find it is irritating you, it is most likely plated rather than sterling silver.

Stun in Monica Vinader Sterling Silver Jewellery

Monica Vinader jewellery is crafted from sterling silver. In particular, we only use recycled silver as it is better for the environment. Our contemporary silver designs are perfect for everyday wear, whether you're after a new pair of hoops, or elegant stacking rings - you'll look stunning in your new pieces!

what’s more valuable sterling silver or silver plated?
comparing sterling silver and silver plated jewellery

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