Learn about Gems DIAMOND BASICS Diamond Cut Diamond Clarity Diamond Color Diamond Carat Diamond Shape DIAMOND ADVICE Ideal Cut Fluorescence Diamond FAQs Certificates GEMSTONES Aquamarine Emerald Garnet Opal Peridot Ruby Tanzanite Sapphire Tourmarine Turquoise GEM ADVICE Basics Gem Styles Care and Cleaning Gems by Color PEARL BASICS Color Luster Size Shape Surface Strands PEARLS GLOSSARY Pearl Types Oyster Types Industry Terms GOLD Gold Types Karats Quality Color Price Care PLATINUM Basics SILVER Alloys Marks Workmanship Finish Maintenance HOW TO BUY JEWELRY Rings Styles Bracelets Earrings Necklaces Pins Brooches SILVER ALLOYS Fine Silver in its natural state, 999/1000 pure, is too soft an element for practical jewelry. To make it workable, an alloy such as copper is added. Here are the main silver alloys: Sterling Silver: A mixture of 92.5 % pure silver (925 parts) and 7.5 % metal alloy. Silver Plating: Also known as silver plated or silver coated. A base metal, usually nickel silver or brass, is coated with a layer of pure silver by a process called electroplating. Vermeil: Sterling silver electroplated with at least 100 millionths of an inch of karat gold German Silver or Nickel Silver: A silver-white alloy consisting of copper, zinc and nickel. Coin Silver: 90% (900 parts) pure silver and 10% (100 parts) metal alloy. A process of melting down coins done in the 19th century, and mostly discarded today.