Wednesday, December 24, 2008

German Silver - Is this alloy truly silver?

Although called silver, German Silver is actually an alloy that is made of approximately 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc, with 5 % tin. It contains no actual silver. It is also commonly referred to as nickel silver, although this is an erroneous term for it. It was invented in the mid 1800s in Germany as a substitute for silver, as a cost saving measure.

Occasionally a piece of German silver can be silver plated. The alloy is hard and tough but quite malleable. It is harder than silver, and has a similar color, although with a grayish tinge. When exposed to the air, German Silver tarnishes a slightly yellow color. It is often hallmarked with the number 800.

Below are some examples of German silver.

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