Sterling Silver vs Silver Filled vs Silver Plated

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What’s the difference? 

Sterling vs filled vs plated.

There has been some confusion among beaders and consumers alike as to the difference between Sterling Silver, Silver Filled and Silver plate. Silver filled is relatively new to the market and most people don’t really know where it fits in. I will talk about all three options, but let's start the conversation with Silver Plated. 

  Silver Plate is the least expensive of the options and as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad choice. Silver plated beads and jewelry come in varying degrees of quality and some are excellent and will last for many years. Plated Beads and findings are great when you need a low price point for your jewelry. Trendy designs that come and go are a great place to use them. Sometimes people want a small memento or gift but don’t want to pay much for it. This is the best time to use plated beads and findings. Plated beads, jewelry and findings do have a significant range in quality, so if you are going this route, make sure to use a trusted vendor that will stand behind their products. Quality plated findings are usually on quality metal like brass or copper although some alloy metals also work well. Before you dive into plated findings, know that that personal body chemistry and use will affect longevity making it impossible to guarantee. 

 On the other end of the silver spectrum we have sterling silver. Sterling silver is the most commonly used in fine jewelry, beads, and findings. Sterling silver is very light
and durable making it a great choice for high quality jewelry. It is literally .925 pure silver mixed with an alloy. The alloy strengthens the metal so that it can be easily used in jewelry applications. You don’t have to worry about the silver coming off and it can be polished back to its original shine at any time as often as needed. It is the best choice for people looking for jewelry to last and to be handed down to future generations. 

Last but not least we come to silver filled. Silver filled falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, and it may be my favorite. You may have already heard of gold filled. Since Gold has always been one of the most expensive precious metals, It was created back in the 19th century to get the look and durability of gold, at a lesser cost. In 2011 the price of silver reached an all time market high at close to $50 an ounce. This created a need for a high quality but cost effective way for the average consumer to continue to have quality silver at a reasonable price. It’s made in the same way as gold filled. Made by using heat and pressure to apply a thick layer of precious metal to a core of base metal. It’s much thicker than a plating, sometimes more than 100 times as thick meaning it will last a lifetime. Even though the price of silver has come down since 2011 silver filled is still a great choice for quality pieces at great prices. 

No matter where you get your metals, make sure it is from a reputable dealer that stands behind their products and provides great customer service. I can think of a great one off hand that hosts this blog. :)

Happy creating!

Market Price 04/12/2024 EST: 

Sterling Silver: $28.01

Gold: $2345.65

Wholesale jewelry supply sells findings to the trade and specializes in wholesale beads and jewelry making supplies. Our wholesale jewelery findings and bead supplies are of the finest quality with rock bottom prices and personalized customer service that can't be rivaled. Supplying the world in the  wholesale jewellery supply trade for over 30 years! 

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