Liars and Deceivers

14 07 2012

While I’m thinking about sterling vs. plate: I want to mention something I have seen frequently. I have noticed several sellers on ETSY and EBAY listing chainmaille items as “Sterling Silver.” However, when I read the specifications, I discover that the chainmaille is made from “sterling silver plated copper,” “sterling silver plated rings,” or something similar.

For example this listing claims to sell a bracelet made from “sterling silver & turquoise.” The description even states the bracelet has .925 metal purity, which is the purity of sterling silver–but the bracelet is not sterling silver!  (The claim of turquoise, too, isn’t accurate. It has turquoise-colored glass beads, not turquoise stones.) Granted, the bracelet is very pretty, and it is a good deal for the price, but it’s made from “sterling silver plated rings.”

This is a problem for two reasons.

First, sterling silver plate can’t exist (as far as I know). The plating process coats, or plates, a base metal (typically copper) with a thin layer of pure silver through electroplating. (In brief, copper pieces are submerged in a solution, silver is submerged on the other side, and an electrical current carries silver atoms from the silver to the copper pieces. As a result, only pure silver is affixed to the base metal.) On the other hand, sterling silver is a mix of metals, with 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. The other metals give sterling silver its strength, which is why jewelers often prefer it over fine silver. By claiming something is sterling silver plated copper, the seller is lying to the buyers.

Second, these advertisements are deceptive. The buyer sees the big letters “STERLING SILVER BRACELET” and may think he or she will get a sterling silver piece of jewelry. The buyer may not be attentive enough, or savvy enough, to realize the piece isn’t sterling silver at all! Rather, the buyer thinks, “Wow! I’m getting a sterling silver bracelet [or whatever] for only 30 bucks. This is a great deal. I’ll buy it!” In this way, the seller deceives the buyer.

I won’t resort to lying or deceiving. If I have a piece of jewelry made from silver plate, the item description clearly says that the materials are silver plated. The title might say “Silver bracelet,” and this is true, but I always include materials in the item details. I will tell you what you’re getting: silver plate or sterling silver. I won’t lie to you or try to deceive you. If you buy my jewelry, I want you to be happy with it, not feel cheated.

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4 responses

14 07 2012
whisperingiris

A good tip is if it seems to good to be true (concerning the cost of the piece) it probably is.

15 07 2012
whisperingiris

Reblogged this on Whispering Iris and commented:
I believe it’s important to properly inform your customers about exactly what they’re getting when they buy from you. In the description of the item is a good place to start. Some online sellers get so caught up in driving potential buyers to their site by misrepresenting their product. In the end it’s probably a good way to annoy, and potentially, lose customers. Chain of Beauty’s recent post gives some good examples of these seller’s misrepresentations.

28 07 2012
John Batt

Fire Mountain Gems actually sells a sterling silver filled wire. It’s the same as gold filled wire only made with .925 Sterling Silver http://www.firemountaingems.com/sterling-silver-filled.asp?navsrc=2

31 07 2012
chainofbeauty

John: Thank for chiming in.

My argument is still valid. The overall purity of the metal is not 0.925, only the outer layer. Also, silver-filled wire is not sterling silver plated (assuming that’s what the buyer meant). In fact, the sellers I’m criticizing would do better to call their materials sterling silver filled rather than sterling silver plated. The quality of filled wire is far better than the quality of plated wire–a much thicker layer of the silver or gold. Most importantly, to call something sterling silver when it is actually sterling silver filled is deceptive. My advice: Call it what it is so the buyer knows exactly what he or she is getting, i.e., be honest.

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