Sterling vs Silver-plated

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asmdgl wrote
on Aug 27, 2011 1:09 PM

Hi everybody!

 

I've decided it's time for me to get some better quality findings than the base metal ones I've been getting from Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Should I  get silver plated or sterling silver findings? Which is the better quality?

Alissa

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Alissa

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Tia Dalma wrote
on Aug 27, 2011 2:14 PM

Hi Alissa,

in my opinion Sterling Silver is always nicer than plated silver...Plating is usually a very thin layer of silver that is electroplated onto a base metal and that plating can sometimes wear off with just a polishing cloth. With the high price of precious metals these days some companies are trying to make better plated products but there are also going to be even more of the cheaper and lesser quality products flooding the market making it hard to know what is good and what isn't!

When I am using silver colors for findings, I only use real sterling silver rather than plated silver but that is just me...many people use plated products with little to no problems...one good thing to do is learn how to make a lot of different findings out of SS wire then you can save some money!

Thunderbird Supply in NM has 4 big sales yearly and when they do their precious metal prices are practically wholesale compared to the normal high price right now...so I stock up on SS wire during these sales and sales from several other companies too! So looking for sales on metals and learning how to make fingings etc is a good start to using SS and saving some money at the same time!

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asmdgl wrote
on Aug 27, 2011 2:59 PM

Thank you for the suggestion! Does Thunderbird Supply have a website? When are their 4 sales?

Alissa

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Tia Dalma wrote
on Aug 27, 2011 4:04 PM

Yes they do...here is a link to their site page with some updated sale dates! Looks like they have listed a lot more dates recently! Some sales are better than others but any sale is better than none! Haha!

Sometimes during these sales the sale prices don't appear until you put something in your shopping cart so it can be confusing at first but I got several 10 foot lengths of SS wire in different tempers, gauges and shapes for anywhere between $5 to $20 for 10 feet during their last sale! Not bad when many places want $20 to $30 for 5 feet of wire!

They have a lot of different beads and supplies too...I get my Pony beading needles from them too...they are normally $1 for a pack of 25 and during sales they are even less so I always purchase at least 3 or 4 packs every time! They do sell Japanese seed beads in 28 gram tubes and offer pricing level discounts within certain parameters...I often pick up several tubes of beads during these sales too!

http://www.thunderbirdsupply.com/supersale.aspx

Also check out Rio Grande for precious metals and Monsterslayer...Rio is a bit expensive but offers excellent quality and variety of supplies! Monsterslayer has tons of stuff and great prices too!

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Beadiecat wrote
on Aug 27, 2011 6:32 PM

I also like to use real silver, I'm afraid silver plating will wear off or chip.  But with the price of silver...UGH!

I've been hearing about silver-filled, and I may give that a try.  The coating is about 25 times thicker than silver plating.  It's similar to gold-filled, but with silver.  I think FMG has it, and I've seen it pop up in other places too.  It may be a nice alternative to get a bit lower price.

Cat

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KristieJ3 wrote
on Aug 29, 2011 3:43 PM

I've been seeing a lot of the 'silver filled' findings and chain myself, I even bought some to try. I'm sort of testing it out at the moment, but it looks and shines just like sterling and is a little cheaper.

The only time I use silver plate is for kid / pre-teen jewelry that I sell cheap and because I know they're not going to really care, lol.
But for any of my expensive or even moderately priced pieces I use sterling, and now I've made some with the silver filled. And I always use sterling crimps because the base ones tend to crumble and break wire SO easily!

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Evalie wrote
on Aug 29, 2011 7:15 PM

I tend to use the sterling for most of my jewelry.....with the exception (like Kristie) of those items I want to sell for short $ to teens...then I use wither craft wire or silver plated. I was lucky to buy LOTS of sterling when it was about  .79 a gram a few years ago, and I'm still going through it. The only thing I have to repurchase on a regular basis is wire. ( and that's gonna hurt )

The silver plated items are very different depending on where you buy them....some coatings are so thin that it cracks when you just bend the wire to make a simple loop ! I haven't tried the silver filled products yet, but I would say that they would probably be more like the sterling....but lesser cost. That's on my list to get on my next order of wire so I can try it out.

Evalie

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quekpeggy wrote
on Aug 29, 2011 8:12 PM

Hi ladies, I have two silly questions to ask .  Please pardon my ignorant.

1. Does sterling silver get tarnished easily due to oxidation? Most of my friends avoid wearing silver jewelry either because of that or they are allergic to silver.

2. What is the content of the cheap silver looking wire mentioned ? Copper plated with silver, stainless steel or nickel alloy? 

Thank you in advance (and I feel so embarrassed to have asked these elementary questions)Embarrassed

Peggy

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DebWAZ wrote
on Aug 30, 2011 3:01 PM

quekpeggy:

Hi ladies, I have two silly questions to ask .  Please pardon my ignorant.

1. Does sterling silver get tarnished easily due to oxidation? Most of my friends avoid wearing silver jewelry either because of that or they are allergic to silver.

2. What is the content of the cheap silver looking wire mentioned ? Copper plated with silver, stainless steel or nickel alloy? 

Thank you in advance (and I feel so embarrassed to have asked these elementary questions)Embarrassed

Peggy,

Don't be embarrassed to ask questions - we were all beginners at one time.

You are right that Sterling silver (and even some silver plate) will tarnish due to oxidation. Things such as the amount of moisture or pollution also factor in to how quickly or how badly a piece will tarnish. Tarnish to silver is the same as rust to iron or steel.

There are many different silver color wires. Nicke) silver is one of the common ones. It is silver colored wire, but has no silver at all . It's actually a combination of nickel, zinc and copper. Nickel silver can also be called Alpaca (alpacca) or German Silver.  I have seen some of the craft wires that are "non tarnish" silver (no designation on the label of what the metal is) that not only tarnish, but they turn a dull grey that won't shine up.

OTOH, there is a silver plated wire with a copper core by BeadSmith that is a nice shiny silver and it doesn't tarnish much. Plated metals don't last long on me, but the BeadSmith "German Wire" keeps the color - it doesn't wear off easily and it doesn't flake or peel off, either.

A common place to see "alpaca" silver is tourist jewelry from Mexico. Lots of the silver colored jewelry will be stamped "alpaca", but it is not silver and if you take a piece of alpaca "silver" to be repaired or resized, most jewelers (unless they have a laser welder) won't work on it because the metal content is questionable.

I've just started seeing references to silver filled wire and findings and I know some people are confused about the term "filled". Filled (gold or silver) does not mean it is filled WITH gold or silver. It is a base metal that is permanently bonded to a heavy layer of gold or silver, so it's the gold or silver that's filled with the base metal. Plating is a very thin coating on a base metal. Filled metal is a much heavier layer - I've seen one description that says "hundreds of times thicker". Because it's permanently bonded to the base metal, it will not wear off or peel off. You can tumble filled metals, but you shouldn't tumble plated ones! Silver filled wire will tarnish unless it's coated with something.

I had to learn all this the hard way - my DH is a jeweler and I got a "crash course" in jewelry and precious metals and gemstones when we got married.

Deb

Deb

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quekpeggy wrote
on Aug 30, 2011 11:26 PM

Smile Thank you so much Deb for such a clear explanation.    No wonder the silver jewelry tarnishes so easily here (Singapore) because being a tropical country, its humidity is very high.  

I think if the wire has got no silver content, it should not bear the word 'silver' in its name at all e.g. 'German Silver'. Haha, it's just too confusing for me.

 

Clara: Thanks for the tips for keeping the silver jewelry.  It's quite frustrating now because I have to regularly dip them in the special silver care solution in order to regain the shine.  Hmm....may be I should consider using  the silver filled wire for the gemstone pieces.

Peggy

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Sherri S. wrote
on Aug 31, 2011 12:59 PM

DebWAZ said: 

Nickel silver can also be called Alpaca (alpacca) or German Silver.  I have seen some of the craft wires that are "non tarnish" silver (no designation on the label of what the metal is) that not only tarnish, but they turn a dull grey that won't shine up.


Deb, I never knew that!  All these years, I thought Alpaca silver was 50% "sterling" silver and 50% nickel silver.  You are always a WEALTH of information!

 

 

 Sherri S.

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DebWAZ wrote
on Aug 31, 2011 4:08 PM

Sherri S.:

DebWAZ said: 

Nickel silver can also be called Alpaca (alpacca) or German Silver.  I have seen some of the craft wires that are "non tarnish" silver (no designation on the label of what the metal is) that not only tarnish, but they turn a dull grey that won't shine up.


Deb, I never knew that!  All these years, I thought Alpaca silver was 50% "sterling" silver and 50% nickel silver.  You are always a WEALTH of information!

 

Sherri,

Alpaca silver causes headaches for unwary jewelers - a customer will buy one of those pretty MOP inlay bracelets in Mexico, a leaf or part of the band will break and the customer will bring it to the jeweler to fix. Then they are disappointed when the jeweler says they won't fix it or worse, they try to fix it and it ruins the piece.

Now, if you really want to get confused, there is nickel silver which has NO silver and coin silver. COIN silver is actually silver, but is not sterling. It's 90% silver, as opposed to sterling which is 92.5% silver. 90% silver was the standard used for US coins. By the way, the "clad" US coins (the 1965 to present copper "sandwich" coins) no longer have silver in them at all. The US Mint now uses - guess what - NICKEL SILVER! SHEESH!!!

Peggy,

Silver filled will tarnish just like regular sterling silver, unless it has a coating or is rhodium plated. Anything that has sterling silver - whether "solid", plated or filled will tarnish. 

To keep silver from tarnishing, you can put a piece of unsealed white chalk in the container.

Deb

 

Deb

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quekpeggy wrote
on Sep 1, 2011 7:03 AM

Deb,

Sorry, I have another silly question:  When the rhodium plated wire subjects to twist, turn and bend, won't the rhodium be scratched out and exposing the silver?   I have no faith in plated stuff.Tongue Tied

Peggy

http://pq-beaddreamer.blogspot.com

We make a living by what we get;
we make a life by what we give.

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