Sterling silver and fine silver jewelry are often mistaken for each other, and many are confused as to what the titles mean. So what separates the two?
For starters they both have different millesimal fineness numbers. The fineness of a precious metal is the ratio by weight of the primary metal to any base metals or impurities traditionally expressed as parts per 1,000. This is basically a pureness level for each type of not only silver jewelry, but gold as well.
Fine silver has a millesimal fineness of .999 containing 99.9% silver with the rest being trace amounts of impurities. Sterling silver has a millesimal fineness of .925 meaning 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper and other metals. Because of its high purity, fine silver is generally too use alone in jewelry making unless it is hammered.
There is also the issue of tarnishing between the two. Although sterling silver is alto more durable in terms of its crafting, the other metals it contains make it more prone to tarnishing. Fine silver is also normally not appropriate for jewelry that's worn regularly because of durability issues making it easier to bend. Sterling silver being the more durable of the two is not only used it jewelry its used to make other items as well. Due to the soundness of sterling silver it is used to manufacture some brasswind instruments including the flute and saxophone.
Here are some other fun facts that you may or may not know about fine silver and sterling silver:
• Fine silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals
• Sterling silver is the most common seen form of silver today
• Over 30% of industrial silver consumption in the united states is for photography production
• Humans learned to separate silver from lead as early as 3,000 BC
• One ounce of silver can be drawn into 8,000 feet of thin wire
It is important to realize the cleaning steps for each type as well. A quick way to clean sterling jewelry:
• Boil a reasonable amount of water suitable for the amount of jewelry and add a tablespoon of baking soda and aluminum foil
• After the water has come to boil remove it from your heating element, move the pieces around with a wooden or plastic utensil
• Rinse jewelry under tap water
• Dry the pieces with a soft cloth
As for cleaning fine silver:
• Fill a plastic bowl with lukewarm water and a little dishwashing soap
• Soak jewelry for a few minutes then gently scrub it with a toothbrush gently
• Rinse and pat dry on a soft cloth
So there you have it fine silver and sterling silver. I hope this has been educating describing the two types, and that even though they look identical, they are both have big and small properties that set them apart.