As you’ve looked through my site, you’ve seen a portion of my work is created in fine silver. Since silver jewelry is often sold as sterling silver I thought it would be helpful to explain the difference between the two so you’ll have a better understanding of what you’re purchasing.
When you buy silver jewelry it’s common to see a .925 stamp somewhere on the piece. This has come to be a symbol that you are buying a quality piece of jewelry. However, it’s rarely explained what the .925 actually stands for.
When you see the .925 stamp, it indicates that there is 92.5% silver in a piece of silver jewelry. The remaining 7.5% is made up of other metal alloys. The alloy makes the silver harder and helps jewelry keep it’s shape and form.
When you purchase something made of fine silver it is composed of 99.9% silver as opposed to the 92.5% silver found in sterling silver. It is the highest content of pure silver available. It is not possible to have 100% silver because there will always be trace impurities. Fine silver is the material used when buying silver for investment purposes. When I’m making something of fine silver, I take investment silver, melt it down and form it into the shape I would like to create.
There are a few benefits to using fine silver depending on the piece. It will not tarnish like sterling silver so the metal stays more shiny and white. It is also softer so this allows me to do things like shape the fine silver bangles into an organic shape and turn the fine silver necklace into a piece of sculpture. The bangles will slightly change shape over time and the fine silver necklace can be opened and closed to put on your neck because it is malleable. The softness of the fine silver allows me to facet the fine silver stacking rings to really reflect the light. Because the hammering has hardened the rings, they don’t normally change shape; although they are usually slightly organic in shape rather than being perfectly rounded.
I choose to use sterling silver for some of my pieces because I would like for their shape to remain stronger. For example, with the Numeral collection I want to make sure the rings and bracelets hold their form rather than bending with time. I also use sterling silver for my pendants and earrings because I want a material that is hardened. So it’s really a matter of the final outcome I’m striving for that determines the metal I use.
Hopefully that eliminates any confusion about the difference between fine silver and sterling silver so you will feel more confident in what you are purchasing. Both fine silver and sterling silver are excellent, quality materials whose value will stand the test of time. As with anything you purchase from Julia Parker Designs, you can feel confident that you are purchasing a quality item that you will be able to pass on as heirloom jewelry in the future.