How often have we confused one with the other, ending up making a faux pas? Read on to know the difference between silver and sterling silver.

What Is The Difference Between Sterling Silver And Silver?

For women, beauty is their way of expressing themselves. How beautifully a woman presents herself and also her home is often a way in which she is judged. Sterling silverware’s maintenance and its use (and show!), which picked up like wild fire during the Victorian Era, has always been a hit with women when it comes to hosting formal dinners and parties. In fact, the way a women takes care of her sterling silverware is often a criterion to rate her as a woman. For something that had gained the status of a social necessity and no formal party was complete without it, did anyone ask what the difference between sterling silver and real silver is? Is nobody interested in where the name ‘sterling’ came from? If you are one of those inquisitive people who are not satisfied with just using silverware and would want to know how sterling silver is different from real silver, read on.
Difference Between Silver And Sterling Silver
There are many points of difference between silver and sterling silver. Here are some ways in which they can be distinguished.
What Is Silver?
As many of us may remember from our chemistry lectures in school, silver, represented on the periodic table as Ag, is the forty seventh element, and comes under the category of metalloids. Along with gold and platinum, it has been used for making jewelry, in art and for making currency since time immemorial. In nature, it usually forms alloys with ores of copper, copper-nickel, or lead, and it is then separated out and purified.
Composition Of Silver And Sterling Silver
Pure silver is 99.9% silver, whereas sterling silver is 92.5% silver alloyed with copper, zinc or nickel to give it strength. Pure silver is more pliable and not suited for larger objects or where strength is needed, such as in bowls, cutlery or silverware, musical instruments and even surgical apparatus. In sterling silver, every thousand parts of the metal has nine hundred twenty five parts of silver and the rest are of copper, zinc, or nickel and is more durable.
Why The Name ‘Sterling’?
The earliest reference to the term ‘sterling’ comes from French and dates back to the eleventh century. This term could find its origins in a term from an old French word esterlin. The word in origin refers to the newly introduced Norman silver penny. These pennies were sometimes imprinted with a small star, which gave rise to the phrase ‘steorling (coin) with a star”. Another story attributes the origin of the word sterling to a place known as Easterling in Germany where silversmiths developed sterling silver alloy.
Pure silver is too soft, rather brittle, and fragile and is unable to hold on to the shape given to it. It is difficult to mold it into objects that will be used every day and into instruments that demand strength. In contrast, sterling silver is more durable and is often used to make musical instruments and silverware.

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