Sterling silver filled wire consists of a layer of durable sterling silver bonded to a copper-alloy or brass-alloy center. It is hundreds of times thicker and more durable than silver plated. The quality is dependent on the thickness of this layer. Silver filled items look identical to sterling silver, and can be antiqued just like sterling silver.
Fine silver is 99.9% silver, it’s also easily tarnished and dented. Sterling silver provides durability and exceptional value. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure and is usually alloyed with copper.
Usually, jewelers will stamp the piece with "925" or "925 silver," indicating the percentage of silver parts per thousand.
Because pure silver is soft like lead, it is not normally suitable for pendants and chains because it bends, breaks and stretches too much. To make it stronger, sterling silver is created by mixing pure silver with copper to give it more strength. One of the side effects of this is the tarnishing that goes with the inclusion of copper.
Sterling silver is the best option for jewelry because it still retains the brilliance and value of pure silver but is much more durable because of its copper alloy.
Silver plated items are made from a very thin coating of pure silver over other metals. When the coating of silver flakes or scrapes off, the base metal underneath is revealed. It is definitely the most economical of all the silver choices. It can also retain its brightness easier and doesn’t tarnish as quickly as sterling silver and sterling silver filled because it generally doesn’t contain the copper metal.
Silver tone jewelry has the look of silver but contains no actual silver metal. Compared to sterling silver jewelry, silver tone jewelry is less expensive and less long-lasting. It is made by dipping a metal piece of jewelry in a silver-looking substance that coats and hardens as a top layer.
Silver tone jewelry can be made from a variety of metals and the quality varies greatly between combinations. However, it is always considered costume jewelry.