Is your sterling silver jewelry silver plated? What does silver-plated jewelry mean? And how much is it worth?
When it comes to jewelry, there are countless options that you could choose from, depending on your style, budget, and preferences. One of the options you will come across is silver-plated jewelry.
Although this is not the most common class of silver jewelry, you will be surprised to learn that there is quite a bit of silver plated jewelry on the market, and what you have on is actually silver plated and not actual sterling silver jewelry.
What is silver-plated jewelry?
Silver-plated jewelry can be defined as jewelry that is created through silver plating. Silver plating, which is also known as silver electroplating, creates silver plated jewelry, and it involves depositing a thin layer of silver on base metals such as nickel or copper.
Silver plating was first developed back in the 1830s and is now widely used in more than jewelry because of its numerous benefits and the low cost of the process.
For the silver plated jewelry, plating is often done in one of two ways – plated silver electroplating or sterling silver electroplating.
Through silver plating, the base metal that makes up the jewelry in question is coated with a thin layer of silver. As with other types of electroplating, the layer of silver added to the base metal through electroplating with silver is ultrathin and measured in microns. Silver plating results in plated jewelry with a layer of silver that is between 1 and 40 microns. However, most silver plated jewelry will have between 1-10 microns of silver, but most have 2 microns of silver plated on them.
The differences between versions of plated sterling silver result in different prices. Plated silver jewelry is, therefore, cheaper than sterling silver plated jewelry because the plated silver used isn’t nearly as pure as the sterling silver. Therefore, jewelry plated with 925 sterling silver often costs a little more. Often plated silver is combined with many other metals like tin, copper, and nickel.
Is silver-plated jewelry worth anything?
Since the amount of silver in the silver-plated jewelry is minimal and the base metals have no inherent value, especially for the small weight in jewelry, most of the silver-plated jewelry has no value.
The other reason for the very low value of silver plated jewelry, besides the ultrathin layer of silver on base metals like copper, nickel, and brass, has to do with the fact that the silver-plated jewelry wears out quite fast, with the layer of silver rubbing off quickly, especially if the jewelry comes in contact with water often.
Some of the silver-plated jewelry is, however, valuable and will last a while, even fetching some money on the market. However, this is the case only where the layer of silver used is thicker than the 2 microns common with most of the plated jewelry. A 40-micron silver-plated piece would be worth significantly more, and such pieces are regarded as relatively good quality types of silver-plated jewelry.
The silver-plated pieces of jewelry are also worthless because they tarnish fast, within a shorter duration, especially if they are not taken care of.
How then do you determine the value of silver-plated jewelry?
Well, the very first thing to do to determine the value of your silver plated jewelry would be by checking if the piece is made of actual sterling silver or it’s plated. Essentially, authentic sterling silver jewelry will bear the .925, Sterling, 925, or EPNS or EP authenticity stamps. Such markings would be absent from the plated jewelry.
If that jewelry is plated and therefore free of any of these authenticity stamps or hallmark signs, it would mean that the jewelry has no inherent value or monetary worth.
In other words, the plated jewelry doesn’t have enough precious metal for it to be a meltdown, and the value of the silver is determined. Also, the silver-plated pieces of jewelry don’t retain their resale values.
Does silver-plated turn green?
Although the silver-plated jewelry contains silver as the outer layer, there is a risk of the jewelry leaving that annoying green discoloration on your skin – depending on your body’s chemistry. Often, this happens because that piece of jewelry made be made of copper as the base metal, or the silver plating might have a high percentage of copper. The copper gets oxidized, leaving you with that green stain.
Pros and cons of silver plated jewelry
- Plated sterling silver jewelry with a thick layer of silver is durable and lasts long.
- The silver plating gives you a variety of good quality and good-looking jewelry.
- Plated silver can last for up to 20 years if it’s well-cared-for
- The plated jewelry will tarnish
- The quality could be better
- It’s not valuable
- Not resistant to corrosion
Plated silver jewelry is the cheaper version of silver jewelry. It’s often made of metals like nickel and copper as the base metal, and the coating used has about 2 microns of silver (or a maximum of 40 microns).
But because of the micron thickness of the silver coating and the fact that the silver is too thin and the base metal not valuable, the silver-plated jewelry isn’t really valuable.