Originally posted May 8, 2016
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked at the festivals where we’ve been selling our jewelry is, “What is the difference between .999 Fine Silver and .925 Sterling Silver?” The short answer is in their makeup:
- .925 sterling silver is made up of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper or other ingredients
- .999 fine silver is made up of 99.9% pure silver and less than .1% copper or other ingredients
Here are my Top 5 reasons why I feel .999 is better than .925 and the differences between the two:
1. .999 silver does not contain significant amounts of nickel or copper – two of the most popular skin irritants in jewelry. Some forms of sterling silver contain both nickel and copper at high levels and many people are allergic to these. They’ll get rashes on their skin that itch like crazy!
2. .999 tarnishes much slower. While all silver will eventually tarnish, sterling silver tarnishes quicker because it commonly contains 7.5% copper while .999 fine silver contains less than .1% copper. Copper is one of the primary causes of tarnish.
3. .999 just feels softer. Think of .999 fine silver as cashmere and .925 sterling silver as fine wool. Both are nice and soft but cashmere just feels a little bit better to wear. The same can be said for .999 silver, which is much softer than the harder metal of sterling.
4. .999 silver jewelry is rare. It’s not economical to make .999 jewelry. Jewelers started using .925 sterling silver because a piece can be made thinner than if it was made from .999. The thinner the piece, the less silver it has and that means more profit for the jeweler.
5. .999 has a wonderful place in history. The Dutch side of my family lived in Holland during WWII. At the time of the invasion, Dutch silversmiths melted down pure bars of silver to create common looking items like large hoops for barrels, rail spikes and even buckles. These items hid the silver during the war so it could eventually be reclaimed.