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Nickel silver is a metal sometimes used in the making of costume jewelry. Although it is called silver, it doesn’t actually contain any silver in its composition. The word ‘silver’ in this case refers to the color of the metal rather than the content. Because of this, nickel silver often causes confusion to buyers, who may think that it’s a silver alloy.
Here’s a quick guide
outlining what nickel silver is, as well as its pros and cons.
Nickel silver is
typically made using 60% copper,
20% nickel and 20% zinc. The metal has many names and is also known as German silver,
Alpaca silver, Argentan silver or nickel brass. Nickel silver has many uses,
including in the making of musical instruments, art and sculptures and costume
While there isn’t any
real silver in this metal, it is sometimes silver-plated in which case its
silver content lies in the thin plating on its external surface. This is
usually identified with the stamp EPNS, which stands for Electro Plate Nickel
Nickel Silver Advantages
Nickel silver is ideal
to use in making costume jewelry as it is durable yet malleable and easy to
craft into intricate designs. It can be hammered, textured, cut and soldered
and used in a number of ways to create interesting textures and patterns.
Ethnic German (nickel) silver pendant. See it here.
Nickel silver is also inexpensive,
which is perfect not only for the buyer but also for jewelers looking to
practice jewelry-making. Rather than practice on sterling silver, which is more
expensive, they can utilize this inexpensive metal that looks exactly like
silver. For buyers, it’s a cheap
alternative to sterling
Nickel silver earrings. See them here.
Nickel Silver Disadvantages
There’s nothing wrong
with nickel silver unless you have metal allergies, in which case it’s best to
avoid it altogether.
Something to watch out
for is the labelling of nickel silver. It’s common for nickel silver to be sold
under one of its many other names (German silver seems to be the favorite),
without indication that the metal contains nickel. Jewelers need to clearly
identify that the metal contains nickel and that it is a nickel alloy as opposed to a silver alloy.
Another thing to watch
out for is unscrupulous sellers passing off nickel silver as sterling silver. Unsuspecting
buyers may be fooled by the metal’s appearance and similarity to the more
valuable metal. Buyers may just accept the name nickel silver on face value and think that it is actual silver. Note
that sterling silver is much more valuable.
While nickel silver
has its advantages, you shouldn’t be ripped off paying higher prices. When in
doubt, always ask the jeweler about the specifics of the metal and if they tell
you that ‘nickel silver’ is a form of true silver, you’ll know that they’re
either mistaken or outright lying to you.
So, to wrap up…
Nickel silver is a
good metal choice for costume jewelry. Just ensure that you know what the metal
is when you purchase it and avoid it if you have nickel allergies.
If you’re looking for nickel silver jewelry,
check Amazon’s collection
for the best range.