It's All About the Metal
Did you know that 91 of the 118 elements on the periodic table are metals? Of those 91 elements, only 4 are precious metals: gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. I work with the silvers, and the symbol for silver is Ag, which just happen to be my initials!
Sterling silver is the most common form of silver in the US. It's an alloy, consisting of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. The copper makes for a stronger metal than pure silver. Sterling silver works perfectly for jewelry as it is strong yet malleable and can easily be brought back to full shine. On jewelry it is usually marked ".925" or SS. I make all of my ear wires and hook and eye closures from sterling silver.
Precious metal clay (PMC) is 99.9% pure, fine silver. It was developed by Mitsubishi in the early 1990's and has redefined the industry for jewelry artists. It starts out as clay, as easily formed as Play Doh. Once fired, it is pure metal, pure silver metal! So pure in fact, it is equivalent in quality as the investment silver seen in TV commercials. Unlike sterling, which tarnishes over time, fine silver actually gets shinier with wear. On jewelry, it is marked .999FS and I sign all my designs with my initials Ag.