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Problems Using Silver-Plated

2 November, 2011

I originally stated in my post My First Design – Purple Crazy Agate Elegance Necklace, Bracelet & Earrings that “the reason why I’ve gone with using silver-plated metal beads, clasps and findings (and likely to do so for future creations) is that the price of sterling silver is just very expensive in comparison”. Whilst the price difference point is still valid, I’ve come across problems using silver-plated items.

  • The silver-plated items I’ve purchased, seem to easily have their plating come off when worn regularly each day for day-to-day wear. (This doesn’t seem to affect the silver-plated chain I’ve been using as much, but it does affect other items like the metal beads, earstuds, clasps etc.) This means, unfortunately it doesn’t take long for the metal to lose it’s silver colour. I know that all items that are silver-plated will wear like this over time, but I hadn’t expected that it would take as short a time as it seems to have done with some of the items I’ve made.
  • The more major issue is with regards earrings. I was thirteen when I first had my ears pierced and have never had any issues with my ear piercings in over two decades until a few weeks ago. It seems that even though the earstuds I brought (which were silver-plated) were nickel free, they ended up irritating one of my ear piercings when the silver-plated coating started to wear away.

To take care of an irritated piercing put a sleeper stud in the piercing and keep it in until the piercing has completely recovered. I had swelling with my peircing, which meant if I hadn’t worn a sleeper stud then my piercing would have closed up, which can be problematic if it becomes infected. I used an antiseptic wash to help keep my piercing clean, and made sure to rotate the sleeper stud several times a day. It’s taken a good two weeks, but my piercing seems to be back to normal now.

So I’ve decided that whilst I’m still learning and trying lots of new things out, I’ll continue using silver-plated. However, for things that I really love and will want to wear a lot, that I’ll buy sterling silver items to replace the silver-plated parts and remake an item using sterling silver, so that it’ll last. The other thing is that I will only wear sterling silver and not silver-plated earstuds, as I don’t want to have a repeat of having to deal with an irritated ear piercing.

  1. Have you tried using rhodium-plated ear posts? Like silver and gold, rhodium is a precious metal. True, it’s plating but it seems to last much longer than any of the silver-plated I’ve tried. It’s got a nice shiny almost chrome-like finish. Rhodium also tends to resists scratches and tarnishing. Good luck!

    • Being so new to jewellery making I hadn’t come across rhodium-plated items yet. Thanks for pointing that out to me Sally. It’s something I’ll definitely check out, and see whether that might be more suitable to consider using instead.

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