Pure Silver vs Sterling Silver: What’s the Difference?


With its sleek and shimmering appearance, silver is a coveted metal found in jewelry, household products, and more.

If you’re wondering about the differences when it comes to pure silver vs sterling silver, there are some important things to keep in mind.

Read on to learn more about the difference between pure and sterling silver, so you know what to look for when you shop.

Pure Silver vs Sterling Silver: The Basics

The main difference between these types of silver is their chemical makeup. Pure (or fine) silver is made of 99.9% elemental silver with very few trace elements. Sterling silver is not quite as pure and does have some trace elements of alloys like copper or zinc.

Because of its soft properties, pure silver is more difficult to use when making fine or delicate jewelry pieces. It’s also not as durable, which means that pure silver can easily become bent or misshapen over time.

Sterling silver is a bit more rigid which makes it easier to work with. You’ll often find sterling silver used to make everything from rings and necklaces to flatware (or silverware).


It might surprise you to learn that when it comes to pure silver vs sterling silver, both metals can easily tarnish. When silver is exposed to gases in the air, it eventually becomes discolored and covered with a thin “layer” that looks similar to dirt or grime.

Pure silver doesn’t tarnish as easily as sterling silver due to the variety of alloy metals that it contains. Materials like copper and zinc are easily tarnished, which explains why sterling silver tends to tarnish more easily than its pure silver counterpart.

Regardless, both types of silver will likely need occasional polishing to help them remain shiny and bright. Proper care of your silver items will ensure that they stay beautiful and shiny for many years to come.


So, what is silver worth when it comes to resale value? The answer depends on a variety of factors, especially whether you have a pure or sterling silver item.

Pure silver prices fluctuate daily, much like gold and other metals. That’s because this material is considered a commodity, which means that its prices depend on current market conditions.

As for sterling silver, the price depends on who made the item and whether it contains any additional valuable features like precious or semi-precious stones. Sterling silver jewelry made by respected artisans is often worth more than jewelry purchased from big brand names.

Sparkle and Shine

Now that you know more about pure silver vs sterling silver, you can decide which option is best for you and which type you’ll want to add to your repertoire. Whichever type you choose, this beautiful shiny metal is a lovely addition to your jewelry and housewares collection.

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