What Are the Different Types of Silver Alloys That Exist Today?

All that glitters is not gold! Sometimes it’s silver!

Not all silver is created equal, however. Most silver is part of an alloy, which means it’s mixed with other metals. Are you aware of all of the types of silver that exist, and what it means for the purity of your coins and jewelry? 

If you’re curious about silver alloys, there’s a lot to learn. Read on to learn about silver purity, and how to best gauge the value and quality of silver you may already own! 

What Are Alloys?

At its elemental level, silver is a hard substance. On its own, it would be nearly impossible to shape it into the valuables that you treasure. Silver becomes an alloy when combined with other metals, which makes it soft and pliable enough for crafting. 

We determine silver grades based on the percentage of pure silver in an alloy. The more pure silver in an alloy, the more valuable it is, which is important if you are going to buy silver. You cannot work with pure silver, but you may have seen “three nines fine,” which is about as close as you can get. 

Common Types of Silver

We usually don’t use numbers and percentages to casually talk about silver. Often, we adopt phrases to use that communicate that information more quickly and simply. You may have heard of these common types of silver without realizing what they meant. 

Coin Silver

Coin silver is a common alloy containing 90% silver and 10% copper. If you have a silver US coin, it is most likely made out of this alloy. It is rare today because, in the past, craftspeople melted and used these silver coins to create jewelry and other objects. 

That means that objects made out of coin silver are not all coins. Almost all silver used in crafting in the early 19th century is silver from US coins. 

Stirling Silver

Stirling silver is an alloy that contains exactly 92.5% silver. The other 7.5% is usually copper but is occasionally made up of other metals. It is harder than gold but still considered to be one of the most versatile metals. 

Sterling silver is the basis for British currency, so the percentage is fairly standard. It must undergo rigorous testing to be considered sterling according to those strict government standards. True sterling silver is a valuable investment and popular heirloom. 

Know Your Silver, Change Your Life

Understanding the types of silver is key to understanding the quality and value of coins, jewelry, and other heirlooms. Who knew that chemistry was the key to quality? Now you can buy and sell this precious metal with confidence! 

Time is money! If your stash of valuable silver has bought you some more time, why not check out the rest of the blog? There are plenty of other articles about personal finance that will keep you rolling in the dough!