Thai silver beads are incredible unique works of wearable art. Sterling silver beads are a jewelry making classic but what are these silver beads really? Silver is as common in jewelry as gold and it’s just as versatile. Much like gold, there are various types of silver, including plated silver, sterling silver, and Thai silver. Obviously, plated silver is just a layer of the precious metal over a base, but what are the other two?
Sterling silver is probably the most common type of silver and one of the more well known. Sterling silver is used in jewelry, flatware, writing tools, and just about whatever else you can think of.
To be considered sterling silver, the item must contain 92.5% silver ore. The remaining 7.5% is usually copper, giving some much-needed strength to the admittedly soft metal. Silver, like gold, is inherently soft, making it easy to form, shape, or carve the metal for any project. This is why silver jewelry can be so intricately detailed, unlike steel, copper, or bronze.
This international standard has been in use for centuries, though there have been some recent updates. Normally, sterling silver is coated with a thin layer of platinum to prevent tarnishing and to help keep that silver color.
Almost all sterling silver will bear a stamp saying “925” or “sterling”, making it easy to determine what the piece is made of.
Thai silver is very similar to sterling silver, but with some notable differences. First, Thai silver usually has a much higher silver content, making it closer to 99% than 92.%. This makes Thai silver that much softer and prone to bending or breaking. It also does not have the protective layer, making Thai silver more likely to tarnish to the yellow or black of old silver. Despite this, most people like this aspect, as the tarnishing can make the piece look more antique.
Thai silver is specifically made in Thailand by the tribes found in the Hill Country. It’s almost invariably worked by hand using centuries old techniques. This means each example of Thai silver is wholly unique, making it that much more valuable to collectors and creators everywhere.
Want to know more about metals in jewelry? Click here to learn about gold plating or here to learn about nickel.