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Why Silver Plate Sterling Silver?


Hello - I was looking at sterling silver jewelry made in Thailand, and noticed that some manufactures silver plate sterling silver. I don’t quite understand the benefits of doing so as silver plating sterling silver won’t prevent tarnishing like rhodium or nickel plating over sterling silver.

I asked a manufacture why they silver plate sterling silver, and they said it is to keep the item shiny longer, and the item is nickel free.

Could someone tell me if this is a common practice, and what the benefit of silver plating sterling silver? Or maybe they put fine silver over sterling…this makes better sense.

Also, does silver plating over sterling require base plating (i.e., a layer of another metal between sterling silver and silver plating)?

Thank you!


I don’t have a metallurgist degree but for the life of me I can’t figure out how to plate sterling silver over sterling silver since it is an alloy. I do undertand plating fine silver over sterling silver. I hope to learn more from someone who understands metal way more than I do. Am I missing something?


The usual reason for silver plating sterling is to hide fire-stain.


Ah! That makes sense. The jewelry I was looking at was casted, and I recently learned that casting can create fire scale. It makes sense to cover it up by plating sterling over casted sterling piece.

Do you know if it’s possible to plate sterling silver over sterling silver? Does it require base plating?


This was always on my mind too. But the firescale reply makes perfect sense


It’s not uncommon in the watch industry when silver cases are made. The cases are usually made of 995 silver, but plated with 999 silver. Silver that is 999 pure does not tarnish, or so say the watch case makers. ACtually, it does, but at a ver much slower rate than 995 or sterling silver.


And if you plate with fine silver, do you still stamp it as just Sterling?


my understanding is that you need to stamp according to the lowest silver content contained in the piece.


Hi Barbara, did you mean to say according to the highest silver content? That would make
more sense . Just like ingredients list in a food product they do it from the most content to the least.


no - you must mark according to the lowest. You can’t make a false claim that the entire piece is made from fine silver when part of it is sterling.


Barbara that’s my understanding, too.

Does anybody know if base plating is needed for fine silver plating over sterling, and sterling silver plating over sterling?


If using both fine silver and sterling ( in approximately the same amounts), can you not mark both? If gold is used as an accent, should that be marked as well?
Denny Diamond


it does not matter that it is equal amounts - even if 2 per cent was sterling and 98 per cent was fine silver, you still mark it as sterling. For pieces with gold as an accent I leave you to a goldsmith to comment.


Oh! ok that makes sense. :slight_smile: I am a newbie.


I mark all materials on piece.


You’ll want to check your local legislation (rules vary and this is an international community). But I think you would be allowed to mark the gold in addition to the silver as long as it is clear which pieces are which and you put the part that is the higher majority (presumably the silver) first. Or leave the whole piece un-stamped.
You’ve got to be careful to follow the local rules on this one. Some jurisdictions allow for the seizure of improperly marked items (and/or possible charges on top of that). Which would be a really unfortunate situation.