Q:

What is the difference between sterling silver and silver plating?

A:

"Sterling silver" describes an alloy that has silver content of 92.5%. "Silver plating" typically describes a very thin layer of silver that has been adhered on to a conductive object using electrolysis.

Because "fine silver" (99.9% pure) has a softness that often makes it unfit for practical use, other metals, usually copper, may be added to silver to make the metal more functional. Thus, "sterling" makes a useful label, as it denotes silver of 92.5% purity. This silver is pure enough for beauty and ductility, yet hard enough for practical use. The etymology of the term "sterling" has not been definitively traced, but might relate to Old French terms for silver pennies.

Silver plating typically involves using an electrical current to adhere a very thin layer of silver to an electrically conductive object. This can be done for a number of purposes. For example, silver-plated jewelry has the appearance of finer silver, but can be sold for a lower price. Silver plating also has uses in electronics, as silver is very conductive to electricity.

The term "sterling" describes the purity of silver. Thus, this term has little to do with silver plating. True, some objects may be plated with sterling silver, but objects may also be plated with silver of lesser purity. Because silver-plated objects usually have only a very thin coating of silver, a silver-plated object and a sterling silver object of the same size likely have very different values.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    What is the difference between contact and regional metamorphism?

    A:

    Contact metamorphism and regional metamorphism have different proximate causes, affect areas of different sizes and produce different types of rock. Generally, contact metamorphism only occurs where hot magma has intruded on low-pressure surface rock and exposed the surrounding area to high temperature. Regional metamorphism is generally independent of igneous intrusions and tends to happen in places where tectonic forces have compressed the crust and put high pressure on the rocks.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the difference between elastic and plastic deformation?

    A:

    When elastic deformation occurs, a body recovers its original shape when the applied stress is released. On the contrary, the change in the shape of an object is irreversible when plastic deformation occurs, explains a Iowa State University sponsored website.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the difference between continental drift and plate tectonics?

    A:

    Plate tectonics is the theory that explains the structure, composition and internal workings of the Earth on a worldwide scale, while continental drift refers to the theory that the continents all used to be connected in one megacontinent which scientists dub Pangaea. Both theories attempt to explain the movement of parts of the Earth's crust.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Does silver-plated jewelry tarnish?

    A:

    Since sterling silver is an alloy, it tarnishes when it comes into contact with sulfur particles, which are found in abundance in the air. For this reason, all sterling silver jewelry tarnishes, even silver-plated jewelry, according to Simply Sterling of Colorado. Lotions and perfumes may speed up the process.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore