Sterling Silver or Silverplated Tableware: What's the Difference?

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When elevating your dining experience, the type of tableware you choose can make a significant difference. One of the most luxurious choices you can make is to opt for silver. However, not all that glitters is gold—or, in this case, pure silver. The market offers sterling silver and silver-plated options, but what's the difference between the two? This blog post explores the nuances of sterling silver and silverplated tableware, exploring aspects like durability, value, and maintenance.

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is an alloy made up of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. The reason for the alloy is simple: pure silver is too soft to be functional for tableware. Adding other metals to the mix increases the durability without compromising the luxurious look and feel. When shopping for genuine sterling silver pieces, look for hallmarks like "925" or "Sterling" stamped on the item.

What is Silverplated?

Silver-plated tableware consists of a base metal like copper, brass, or stainless steel coated with a thin layer of pure silver. The coating can wear off over time, revealing the base metal beneath. These items don't contain a hallmark and are significantly less expensive than their sterling silver counterparts.

Sterling Silver or Silverplated - Key Differences


When it comes to durability, the two options present some contrasts. Sterling silver is long-lasting and less susceptible to tarnish, owing largely to its higher silver content. These pieces can endure for generations with proper care, making them a worthwhile investment. However, it's worth noting that the metal is somewhat soft, meaning it can scratch more easily than plated items—though minor damages can often be easily repaired. On the other hand, silver-plated tableware generally has a shorter lifespan. The silver coating can wear off over time, exposing the base metal beneath and making the piece more prone to tarnishing. While these items may initially be more resistant to scratches, once the silver layer starts to wear off, they lose their original lustre and appeal.


When it comes to value, the difference between sterling silver and Silver-plated tableware is considerable. Sterling silver commands a higher initial cost due to the substantial silver content, which is often offset by its potential as a long-term investment. Well-crafted and antique sterling silver pieces can even become more valuable over time. In contrast, Silver-plated items are much more affordable upfront, offering the look of silver without the hefty price tag.


As for maintenance, both types of tableware require specific care routines to retain their appeal. Sterling silver needs occasional polishing using a specialized silver cleaner to maintain its lustre. It is best stored in a dry place and, if possible, in individual cloth bags to prevent scratching. Silver-plated tableware, on the other hand, needs more frequent but gentler cleaning to prevent the thin silver layer from wearing off. Specialized cleaners that are less abrasive than those used for sterling silver are recommended. The effort needed to maintain the shine and quality of these items may vary, but knowing how to care for your chosen tableware will significantly extend its lifespan.

Final Thoughts on Sterling Silver vs. Silverplated

Choosing between sterling silver and silver-plated tableware ultimately depends on your priorities. If you're looking for an heirloom piece that can be passed down through generations, sterling silver is the way to go. However, if you want the opulent look without the price tag and don't mind the shorter lifespan, Silver-plated items might be more up your alley. Regardless of what you choose, understanding the differences can help you make an informed decision that best suits your lifestyle.

Find the Perfect Silver for Your Table

When it comes to the perfect table adornments, you don’t have to choose between sterling silver or Silver-plated at Around the Block consignment. We offer only the highest quality flatware, candlesticks, tableware, servingware, and more in both sterling and Silver-plated.  Browse our selection of sterling silver and Silver-plated tableware online or at our Lesmill Road consignment shop in Toronto.

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