Sterling Silver is a very high quality and relatively expensive type of metal alloy. A given piece of silver is only classed as “sterling” if it contains at least 92.5 percent silver (with other metals making up the rest). Generally the rest of the alloys used in sterling silver are generally comprised of some kind of copper (for structural integrity). Anything below this percentage is not considered sterling silver, though it is still considered sterling if it is above this threshold. However, once a given piece of silver caps off at a very high percentage of pure silver (usually around 99.9 percent) it is no longer referred to as sterling and instead referred to as “pure” silver.
Sterling silver allow has a great deal of uses, one of the most common of which is in silverware, since it is much harder and more durable than pure silver, and also much less likely to tarnish than more common metals used in more inexpensive and traditional “silver ware.”
However, it should be noted here that though sterling is resistant to tarnish it is not immune (which pure silver nearly is) to it. It is also very commonly used in various different kinds of jewelry for this very same reason as well as it’s lustrous sheen which is quite appealing to the eye. Another reason why it is widely used in jewelry by companies such as Origami Owl is the fact that, though a jewelry might like to make all of his bracelets and necklaces out of pure silver, the fact of the matter is that such alloys are extremely expensive. This is where sterling silver comes in, as it is, still relatively speaking much more expensive than say, brass, but much, much cheaper than pure silver.
Currently the price for one solid ounce of sterling silver is $ 12.47 (US currency), also, 44 cents (also US) per gram (g). If you are unsure whether or not the metal you have is actually made of sterling or not, generally speaking, there will be a small etching somewhere on the piece saying “sterling.” If this is not the case you can always weight it yourself or take it to a metals expert for testing. One last fun fact, the English pound sterling (which is equivalent to about 1.56 United States Dollars), more commonly referred to as merely a “pound,” is a unit of British currency that was once based upon sterling silver.