Solid Silver vs Nickel: Why Metals Matter for Jewelry

silver vs nickel

The first piece of jewelry ever, a necklace in Monaco, was created around 25,000 years ago. The only thing more shocking than its recorded age may be what it was made of… fish bones.

Luckily, times have changed pretty drastically. Gone are the days of rocking Chordata around your neck.

As things evolved they became a bit more confusing for the consumer. Jewelry is made out of every metal under the sun now, and in order to choose the right one for you or your loved one, you’ll need to know the main differences between silver vs nickel.


This type of jewelry is often referred to as “sterling silver”, and is surprisingly not 100% solid silver (the metal is too soft to form jewelry by itself).

Instead, around 92.5% of the jewelry will be formed with silver and the other small percentage is usually copper.

Occasionally, sterling silver can be mistaken for nickel covered in a thin layer of silver. To check if your piece of jewelry is true silver, look for a small “.925” engraving on the interior or back of the piece. This indicates it is truly sterling silver.

Sterling silver jewelry for women has been loved for centuries due to its timeless nature, ability to last for generations, and the fact that it is hypoallergenic.

If you have allergic reactions to certain metals, definitely opt for sterling silver as this will alleviate that risk. If you’re shopping for someone else and don’t know if they have allergies or not, then it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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On the other hand, nickel silver will not have a small engraving on the inside of the piece.

Nickel tends to be not as long-lasting. If the piece is worn in the shower or exposed to the elements for a substantial period of time, you may begin to see signs of deterioration.

The silver plating will likely wear off, causing a rusted look as the nickel begins to show through. Typically, nickel silver will be composed of nickel and small portions of copper and zinc, so those metals may show through as well.

To tell if something is silver vs nickel, check the reflectiveness. Sterling silver is among the more reflective hard metals, so nickel silver may appear slightly duller in comparison.

If your biggest priority is your budget, nickel silver will provide you with great quality at a fraction of the price of sterling silver.

Silver vs Nickel

In the end, nickel silver and sterling silver can both be used to create beautiful pieces of fine jewelry that anyone would love to wear or receive.

You must first understand your needs in order to choose the type of silver that is right for you. Are you wanting to put time and effort into choosing the perfect necklace that your wife will love for years to come? Or, are you simply wanting to find a pair of earrings to match the perfect outfit you’ve already picked out?

Check out other health tips, just like understanding the drastic differences between silver vs nickel, on our blog!

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