Both silver and sterling silver offer great appearances, but they’re different when it comes to their composition and characteristics. Read on for a comparison of the two and how you can decide which you prefer. 

Understanding silver 

Pure silver, also known as fine silver, is a naturally occurring element. While it’s really easy to shape, pure silver is rarely used for jewellery due to its softness. The soft nature of pure silver makes it prone to scratches and deformation, making it less suitable everyday wear. 

Abbott Lyon Sterling Silver

Enter sterling silver 

To make silver last longer for jewellery, artisans introduced the alloy known as sterling silver. This alloying process adds strength to the silver without compromising its radiant appearance, resulting in a more resilient and wearable material that’s more commonly used for jewellery. 

Comparing characteristics 

Let’s take a closer look at the key points of silver and sterling silver so you can see the difference between the two more easily. We’re going to look at what they’re made of, how well they last, how long they stay looking good and the price. 


Silver: 99.9% pure silver 

Sterling silver: 92.5% pure silver 


Silver: Soft and prone to scratches and deformations 

Sterling silver: Harder and more durable, suitable for everyday wear 

Tarnish resistance 

Silver: Prone to tarnishing over time 

Sterling silver: Tends to tarnish less due to the alloy composition 


Silver: Often less expensive  

Sterling silver: Slightly more expensive, reflecting the added durability 


Silver: Hallmarked with "999" or "fine silver" 

Sterling silver: Stamped with "925" or "sterling" 

Abbott Lyon Sterling Silver that looks like gold

Both materials boast unique characteristics that make them better for different things. A lot of the time it’s down to personal preference, and your decision should align with your aesthetic preferences, budget and purpose of the jewellery. Add some Abbott Lyon sterling silver jewellery to your collection. 

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