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Learn about sterling silver and silver plating in this video from Richard Sisson, Professional metal restorer.
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I am Richard Sisson with Chevy Chase Plating & Polishing. We are demonstrating today how to polish silver. Right now, I would like to teach you about the difference between sterling silver and silver plate. Sterling silver is a English-speaking term and not all silver is marked Sterling. There are other ways of the determining that. For instance, some silver is marked just 925 and some is marked with the mark of a Hallmark, usually Lion.
Silver that is marked Sterling is always marked somewhere on the item, usually on the bottom. Silver plate will give you the manufacturer's name and so forth but will not say Sterling. If it doesn't say Sterling or 925 or the Hallmark of a Lion, you can assume that it's not Sterling. Sterling silver always has good value. Silver plate is never as valuable as Sterling. I would say, generally speaking that sterling silver is probably worth four to five times the value of silver plate.
No matter how ugly and tarnished or beat up sterling silver looks, because it is virtually solid, silver can always be made to look beautiful. That's one of the great things about sterling. Silver plate is a different story if it's too far gone so to speak, it would have to be either re-plated or perhaps disposed off. Items would never be made of pure silver because you need copper to give strength and rigidity but if it were made of pure silver, it would be much too soft. So that's the information about how to tell the difference between sterling silver and silver plate. Next, we are going to show you how to hand polish your silver to make it look beautiful.