There are a lot of different terms associated with silver, like fine, pure, plated, sterling, stainless, and the ubiquitous number: 925. But what do they mean? We offer a lot of them; like our handmade sterling silver necklaces, as part of our collections here at Omani. So because we are dedicated in giving you, our lovely patrons, the ability to make informed choices about our products, we are pleased to offer you this insider's guide on all things silver!
Let's start with what we are calling the Silver Purity Paradox.
Silver is a valuable metal, no doubt about it, so it makes sense to covet items that are pure and 100% made with silver, but these pieces are hard to come by. Is it because of cost-cutting from manufacturers? Here at Omani, we don't think so, plainly because it is very fragile, when measured through the Mohs Hardness Scale. Basically, pure or fine silver- which means it has 99.9% of the element, is white and lustrous. But it only ranks 2.5 to 3 on the Mohs Hardness Scale to put that into perspective, the virtually indestructible diamond scores a 10, whereas chalk or talc is a 1. This amount of softness would make silver hard to work with, not only will it be prone to scratches and deformations, it would be very hard for our esteemed Israeli artisans to create their designs onto such a brittle medium.
This is why silver is commonly mixed with other elements, usually with other metals that vary in their composition like; copper, zinc, gold, platinum. This creates what we call an alloy, which is a mixture of either two or more different metals, or a metal with other types of elements. Alloys are much stronger than pure metals, both in their chemical composition and when graded through the Mohs Hardness Scale. Not only that, it can lead to very aesthetically pleasing results, such as in colour, sheen, and properties like being more resistant to rust.
Remember the number 925? It actually measures how much silver is in the product, literally when you see the stamp 925 (look for it in our Sterling Silver Omani Jewelry pieces!) you can be assured that it was made with an alloy that has 92.5% silver.
Alloy silver is much less likely to tarnish than fine or pure silver. It is also graded by most people as hypoallergenic, unlike brass, nickel, that interact with the human skin's acidity and can cause those dreaded "green fingers."
We would like to specifically mention the difference between plated silver, and sterling silver because Omani Jewelry has both! The difference between them, apart from the price, is that plated jewelry, which is a silver coating onto a base metal, is a less classic product. The silver either rubs off over time, because it is soft, or the jewelry is more prone to scratches. Positive aspects to this is that we can offer more "fashion-forward" pieces that are stylish and more expressive, as designs that can be built on harder metals can be more intricate or adventurous, so don't be scared to experiment with all types of metal blends!
Let us know in the comments if you have any questions, and we hope that you learned a lot with our article. We really appreciate all the thought and care that goes into each and every Omani Jewelry piece, as much as we know you value the art and design within them too.