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Sterling Silver Plated
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If you see "sterling silver plated" as part of a description, it might be best to stay away.

Using the word 'sterling' means the item is at least 92.5% silver by weight. An item can't be called 'solid silver' unless it is sterling or high-purity alloy. No cement, reinforcing rods, glass, wood, plastic, nothing else. That's why the words weighted, reinforced, lead-filled, or similar appear on the bottom of some candlesticks, salt and pepper shakers, and other items to clarify they are not solid silver.

The law defines how to describe an item or its metal composition.
Similarly, the word 'gold' can't be used unless it is a minimum fineness of 10k throughout. That's why gold plated, gold filled, gold washed, gold rolled, gold electroplated, vermeil, and other legal terms clarify the (almost negligible) amount of gold in an item.

Simply, the words silver, sterling, gold, platinum, palladium, and the other platinum group metals have legal definitions. The law defines how to describe an item or its metal composition. To use these words otherwise requires immediate clarification in the surrounding text: gold tone, silver tone, silver colored, appearance of sterling, etc.

Sterling jewelry is plated with rhodium or gold on occasion. Some people might use the term generically for a sterling silver item plated by another (precious) metal. But it would be called gold electroplate or something like that, not sterling plated.

The one exception to "sterling silver plated" is so rare as to be improbable. Why plate it? For aesthetics - it hides fire scorching, which occurs when sterling silver oxidizes (discolors) so much that it can't be properly polished. Old, OLD silver might have this problem.

Other than that, there's no such thing as sterling silver plated.

Posted by M: November 27, 2018

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