Plating and polishing of silver jewellery goes a long way in determining its luster. It may have a shine as bright as a polished mirror or may be softly luminous in appearance. Despite being a precious metal, Silver jewelry is much economical and cost effective in comparison to platinum or gold which makes it a favorite of jewelry designers and artisans that intend on creating vivid jewelry at a lower cost. Silver plated jewellery looks great when paired with semi-precious stones like garnets, turquoise, amber etc and they are often set in a silver background to highlight the richness of their colors and their beauty through contrast.
Silver plated jewellery is used extensively in jewellery making. It can be used in making earrings, ring, necklaces, bangles and what not. In order to buy the right kind of silver jewellery it is essential to have a working knowledge of the methods involved in creating different types of silver jewellery. Let’s take a look at some of these
Electroplating is a process during which electricity is used to permanently bond silver atoms to a piece of jewellery made from a metal (base) while it is immersed in a solution. The silver forms a coating over the metal as the electric current is passed through the solution. The coating remains durable despite being thin. In course of time, it can wear away to reveal the metal underneath. However, if properly maintained, it can take years to wear away.
These electroplated items are commercially sold as silver plated items. These items may be stamped with EPS for electroplated silver, EP for electroplate or SP for silver plate. Items that have been plated with sterling silver are marked 925 SP. In an attempt to give it a mirror like finish, sometimes sterling silver jewelry is given a coating of rhodium or fine silver. The rhodium coating is purely a matter of choice and taste and does not affect the quality or value of the piece of jewelry.
In case of rolled or filled silver jewelry, a thin outer layer of silver is applied to a base metal however, what makes these items different from electroplated silver items is the fact that these are pressed and heated to make the silver bond with a common alloy. Filled silver jewellery is usually limited in its size and shape compared to electroplated silver jewellery however it has a thicker layer of silver coated on the base metal.
This process is, however, not opted while making fine silver chains as the process of filling requires a certain thickness of metal which is not suitable for making fine and delicate silver chains.
While purchasing filled silver jewelry, try looking for FS or SF marks that indicate that the jewelry has been silver filled. Just like electroplated pieces of silver jewellery, filled silver jewellery pieces also specify the purity of silver used in plating them. Sometimes, they may also have a stamp that indicates the thickness of the layer of silver; it is usually 1/20 to 1/10 of the total thickness of the metal.
It is essential to note the markings on the piece of jewellery. Usually sterling silver jewellery is marked as 925 or sterling silver in most cases. However, some pieces that have been handcrafted may not bear these markings even when they are pieces of sterling silver jewellery. For items that are worn regularly, silver plated jewelry is not the best option as the thin coating of silver may wear away with regular use.
It is important to be mindful of the size of silver plated rings as resizing silver plated jewellery can be a task which not many jewelers are willing to undertake. Even when a jeweler agrees to the resizing, the cost of getting the item resized may turn out to be more than the worth of the jewellery. Therefore, it is advisable to pay attention to these factors while purchasing silver plated jewellery.