Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper.
An alloy is a mixture of metals or a mixture of a metal and another element.
Copper is a chemical element with symbol Cu and atomic number 29.
Silver is the metallic element with the atomic number 47.
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The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.
The fineness of a precious metal refers to the ratio by weight of the primary metal to any added base metals or impurities.
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Fine silver, for example 99.9% pure silver, is generally too soft for producing functional objects; therefore, the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength while preserving the ductility and appearance of the precious metal.
An ion is an atom or a molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving the atom or molecule a net positive or negative electrical charge.
In materials science, ductility is a solid material's ability to deform under tensile stress; this is often characterized by the material's ability to be stretched into a wire.
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value.
Other metals can replace the copper, usually with the intention of improving various properties of the basic sterling alloy such as reducing casting porosity, eliminating firescale, and increasing resistance to tarnish.
Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void spaces in a material, and is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0 and 1, or as a percentage between 0 and 100%.
Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that forms over copper, brass, silver, aluminum, magnesium and other similar metals as their outermost layer undergoes a chemical reaction.
Firescale, also known as firestain, is a layer of oxides that forms on the surface of metals when heated, as by a blacksmith heating a tool.
These replacement metals include germanium, zinc and platinum, as well as a variety of other additives, including silicon and boron.