Why is sterling silver called sterling silver?
As you may have noticed, we’re proud to use sustainable metals like recycled sterling silver here at Dainty London. Recycled sterling silver is after all the perfect, earth-friendly setting for precious stones and lesser-known gems alike.
Whilst perusing our many beautiful recycled sterling silver pieces, you may be asking yourself why sterling silver is called sterling silver? In this blog post, we answer that very question as well as take a closer look at the difference between sterling silver and pure silver.
What is sterling silver?
Created using a ratio of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper, nickel or zinc alloy, sterling silver is a metal known for its strength and durability. Sterling silver is also more readily accessible than pure silver, with sterling silver pieces generally lower in price.
From a craftsperson’s standpoint, sterling silver is easier to work with too, providing a malleable metal that can be used to create countless iconic pieces. Like silver, sterling silver has a long history, with the earliest sterling silver pieces dating back to the 12th century.
Where does sterling silver get its name?
The name ‘sterling silver’ has many origins in history. One of the best-known theories is that ‘sterling’ is derived from the name ‘Easterlings’, the German coiners invited to England during the 12th century by King Henry II to overhaul the kingdom’s coinage. King Henry II famously used silver alloy to create many of the classical silver coins used during his reign.
Another theory is that the word ‘sterling’ comes from ‘steorling’, an Old English word that translates as ‘coin with a star’ and relates to the stars that were generally found on pennies during Norman Times.
How does sterling silver differ from pure silver?
The main difference between sterling silver and pure silver is its composition. As we mentioned above, sterling silver is categorised by its use of at least 92.5% pure silver. Pure silver has to contain at least 99.99% of silver.
There are many benefits to using sterling silver over pure silver. Pure silver is extremely soft making it difficult to work with, less versatile and prone to damage. On the other hand, pure silver is particularly resistant to tarnishing, with the use of copper or zinc in sterling silver making it more likely to tarnish and degrade over time. Pure silver is more valuable and durable than sterling silver, and is also hypoallergenic.
Recycled sterling silver goes one better, providing the zero-impact sustainability needed to preserve the plant life, animals, people and ecosystems that call Planet Earth their home thanks to its preloved status.
Is sterling silver real silver?
In short – yes, sterling silver is real silver. It is simply an alloyed version of pure silver, and is more versatile thanks to this composition. It also offers exceptional quality despite containing less silver than pure silver as The Diamond Gurus explains:
“Sterling silver makes for great quality jewellery and home goods that can last a lifetime with proper care. The copper alloys in sterling silver greatly increase the metal’s durability, making sterling silver jewellery the perfect choice for daily wear at a far more affordable price than 18k gold, titanium, and platinum pieces. Not only does sterling silver look great on all skin types and styles, but this metal can also be enjoyed across home goods...”
Enjoy the quality and versatility of sterling silver for yourself by exploring our jewellery collections today.