Real Sterling Silver vs. Silver-Plated Flatware

Not all metal is the same. To the naked eye, a piece of sterling silver may look the same as a silver-plated piece. However, industry professionals know there are significant dissimilarities between the two. Buyers should also be aware of the debate between real sterling silver vs. silver-plated flatware so they can make an informed decision while shopping.

What Separates the Two?

The most significant difference between the two metals is their origins. Sterling silver is silver mixed with a copper alloy. On the other hand, silver-plated objects are a variety of metals with a thin layer of silver on top. Pieces with a silver layering aren’t as genuine as the real thing, which is apparent in their appearance. Sterling silver has a distinguished look that layered items don’t. Manufacturers produce silver-plated objects to provide durability and imitate the real thing without using as much labor. The remainder of this article will discuss how those on the lookout can spot real sterling silver vs. silver-plated flatware.

The Overall Look

Authentic sterling silver artifacts will have a little wear and tear to them. Even if owners keep their possessions in excellent condition, it’ll get some markings over time. Silver-plated flatware, on the other hand, will rarely show scratches. Yet, this doesn’t make it more valuable. In fact, because silver-plated items are composed primarily of various metals, they aren’t worth much. Although silver-plated flatware may look untarnished, it’s not as valuable as the real thing.


Genuine sterling silver flatware will have markings on it. Typically, most sterling silver objects have the number 92.5 or sterling imprinted on them. This number indicates that the item is 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. Authentic flatware may have other markings to help determine its origins as well. Artisans from the past placed their signature or other details on their creations to separate them from the rest. Thus, owners should be on the lookout for specific markings if they have trouble figuring out authenticity.

Real sterling silver flatware is more beautiful than plated options. Part of the reason is that sterling silver has a more authentic look. Pieces made from metal alloy are incredibly detailed and rich with history. Individuals who want to add to their sterling silver collections should look at Nelson and Nelson’s wide selection of sterling silver boxes. The objects are stunning and date back to the early 20th century. Adding one of these pieces to a home’s décor will elevate the design and impress guests when they visit.