Silver can be an ideal material for use in jewelry. It tends to be safer than many other metals. In addition, silver has been known to have anti-microbial properties good for removing bacteria and odors. However, if you intend to have a product mass-produced using silver be aware that there is the potential for impurities in the metal which can react with sweat and could pose a potential health hazard. One must also be aware of the overall quality of the metal being used. Understanding the raw materials being used in your production can give you a big advantage in retaining control of the manufacturing of your product.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you intend to produce a silver product.
Know the Types of Silver:
It’s important to know specifically what kind of silver you intend to manufacture with. Remember that when you’re trying to get a specific quote from your supplier it’s important to be as specific as possible.
Common Silver Types Used in China:
- Silver925: Silver925, commonly known as Sterling Silver is a combination of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other metals, usually including copper. This is the preferred mixture for making jewelry.
- Silver: Silver925 without coating material.
- Silver990: The purity of the silver is no less than 99%, also known as “fine silver”.
- Silver from Tibet: This has a much lower purity, usually 30% silver and 70% copper and other metals.
- Colorized Silver: Silver925 with a colored coating
- Silver from Thailand: Silver925 but with a darker surface (the color is as a result of oxidation and can be cleaned off but in Thailand it is considered more attractive).
Understand the Nomenclature:
Make sure you can read the different nomenclature for labeling the purity of your silver. For example, the generally accepted international standard is using per mille as above. So 92.5% silver is labeled as S925. However in some older shops in China and smaller factories it is labeled by the hundredth as S92.5.
Learn to Distinguish Silver Types in Jewelry
By Labeling: Relatively basic and easily faked but first step should be to check the markings indicating the type of silver. For example: s925 or s990.
By Color/Gloss: Fake or impure silver will have a darker gloss or no gloss at all.
By Malleability: Pure silver can be bent repeatedly without breaking, however fake silver will eventually break after being bent too many times.
Test with Nitric Acid: Place a couple of drops of Nitric Acid on the surface of the silver. If it turns light green then your silver is of good quality, but if it turns black, your silver has impurities.
Drop it on the Ground!: Fake silver will bounce noticeably higher than the real silver and the sound emitted from the fake one will also be slightly higher than the real one.
Keep up-to-date with the Price of Silver
As of the end of May, 2012 the price of silver in China is about 7-10 RMB/g. However, it is important to note that this is only the price of the raw material. The final price of silver jewelry will also depend on the total material costs, transportation costs, and the degree of difficulty to make the product. Thus the actual raw material costs are usually just a part of the actual production price of your product. If the silver content is less than 92.5%, it will not influence the quotation of jewelry very much. Also note that regardless it is a good idea to keep an eye on material costs so you can verify price increases from your supplier (See Cindy’s post on managing price increases from your suppliers)
Learn Where the Silver is Sourced From
There are 569 silver mines in China across over 27 provinces, so the silver used in your product could come from any number of places. When selecting a factory to work with, it could be beneficial to look for ones near higher concentrations of silver mines.
Below are the top 3 producing silver mines in China:
- #1: Fankou is the biggest associated silver mine in China with an annual production of 135t.
- #2: Poshan has the largest silver mine in China with an annual production of 40t.
- #3: Shanxi has the second largest silver mine in China. It has an annual production of 30t/year.
The most well-known fabrication plant in China is in the southern manufacturing hub of Shenzhen. They focus on producing silver products of medium to high-grade. For simple production of silver products, you can also consider looking for manufacturers in the Yiwu area.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips for sourcing silver from China. If you have any experiencing sourcing silver products that you’d like to share or any questions about the tips above, please feel free to ask in the comments bellow