Silver is a precious metal that is softer and more easily damaged than platinum or alloyed gold and does tarnish slowly over time. Silver is usually alloyed with 7.5% copper to improve its hardness and durability, making it 92.5% pure silver. This is known as Sterling Silver and should always be stamped with 925 or stg to identify it as such.
OTHER METALS USED IN JEWELLERY
Titanium and stainless steel are not considered to be precious metals, even though they do not corrode, discolour or tarnish. This is because they do not meet other criteria for jewellery production, such as their malleability and metal memory properites.
They are, however, used to make fashion jewellery, and so are mentioned on this page about metals used in jewellery manufacture.
Titanium is a natural element (not alloyed) and is not classed is a precious metal, as it is not easy to work with. Whilst it is lightweight and extremely durable, once the piece is cast it cannot be repaired or resized (except for one or two sizes up or down, depending of the style or thickness of the ring). It is not malleable and has a high metal memory (keeps its shape). This is good when it comes to aircraft engineering or human joint replacements, but not so good when it comes to your finger swelling due to an accident and needing the ring quickly removed. Whilst titanium rings can be cut off in an emergency using sharp ring cutters, feedback we’ve received from emergency service workers is that this metal can slow down rescue attempts. Many men who do not like wearing traditional wedding rings do find titanium appealing, so it really is a case of making an informed decision before purchase.
Stainless Steel is an alloyed metal that is used in fashion jewellery, often preferred because of its hypo-allergenic quality. Whilst it is strong and does not tarnish, it cannot be resized or repaired (apart from the buffing out of scratches). The metal is either hand or machine cut to make jewellery, which makes it seamless and strong. It is not is not in the same class as noble or precious metals, and because it is not malleable, is not used for the setting of precious gemstones.