Silver plated photograph frames are traditionally made with a good quality brass as the base metal. They are then plated with an absolute minimum of 10 microns of silver. More importantly absolutely never treated with so called anti- tarnish lacquer.
So, why not use anti-tarnish lacquer, well, it looks awful and doesn’t last very long anyway. It is usually sprayed onto cheap silver plated frames. Because the silver plating is so thin the manufacturers apply this hopping it will give it a few more months use-ability.
Thats before the silver plate wears off from polishing and dusting your picture frame. Poor quality picture frames will last no longer than 18 months.
Cheap Silver Vs Quality Silver
It is almost as expensive today to make a good quality silver plated photograph frame as it is to make an average quality solid silver frame. So, why is it then that there are hundreds of so-called silver-plated frames. Especially online and in gift shops costing less than a tenner?
Low Quality Imports
I asked myself the same question. So I did some research and here is the answer. Zinc really must be the new silver. These so-called silver-plated photo frames are mostly made in China, some in India. The base metal is low quality zinc. Then plated with less than one third of a single micron of silver plating.
The Lacquer Coating
Then coated with a thick layer of lacquer to prevent the “silver” tarnishing. I suspect the lacquer is being used more to keep the microscopic amount of plating intact as much as it is to prevent tarnishing. Also, the lacquer does prevent tarnishing, which is just as well, because if you were to use a silver cleaner on the frame you would remove what little silver there is in very quick time.
Cheap Imitation Silver Photo Frames
So, why use a low-quality metal like zinc well. Its simple really, zinc is cheap and is roughly, when treated, the same colour as silver. One third of a single micron of silver is almost no silver, so it is conveniently helpful if the base metal is the same colour.
Do these “silver plated” frames actually look like silver, well, not when compared to a real silver-plated frame no, they look like shiny zinc with a heavy anti-tarnish lacquer.
When Its To Good To Be True
The good news they are cheap, very cheap, unfortunately, they also look cheap – still you can’t have everything. A good quality 7×5 silver plated frame will cost you about £60.00 if you can find one. So, under a tenner is not bad if you accept that zinc is the new silver even though it doesn’t look much like silver.
The Provenance Of Silver
It is interesting to note, that all the suppliers I contacted did not know the country of manufacture. Consequently or what even a micron of silver is let alone how many their photo frames had. They did not know what was used in the manufacture of the frames they are selling.
One seller did proudly claim. That although he was not sure what a micron was, his frames were plated with a full one single micron. Which he did then claim was well in excess of what other frames offered. Sadly he is right, while a single micron of silver plating is very poor in the extreme. Especially with a £50.00 plus price tag it is as he claimed, three times better than one third – the industry standard.
Deception Of Silver
My problem with all of this is not just the selling poor quality frames. But the fact they are being sold as a high-quality product. So beware if it costs a tenner it is because it is worth a tenner. A tenner does not buy you a high-quality product. If you are buying silver or silver-plated items. Always ask where they are made.
The Hallmarks Of Quality
Never accept a 925 stamp as proof that it is real silver. Real silver has a proper hallmark, and if it is silver plated anything with less than 10 microns of plating is as much use as a chocolate watch. So always ask and at Edinburgh Silver we are always happy to talk to our customers.
The Conclusion Is Zinc the New Silver
Zinc is not the new silver – it is just zinc with a tiny plating of silver and a lot of anti-tarnish lacquer.
Ensure you buy quality silver goods. One way to tell is that the Zinc base metal items weigh much less than the real thing.
The Next Post
Coming soon: Why if everyone is making silver gifts thinner, lighter and abroad are Edinburgh Silver making them heavier, thicker and still all hand crafted here in the UK – what’s that all about???
Common Q & A About Silver
Silver plated jewelry is either pure but usually sterling silver plated over a base metal , whereas “Sterling silver” is .925 silver with a .075 additive, usually copper
One micron is one thousandth of a millimetre as an approximate guide. The is the guide relating to silver work. If something is quoted as having 1 micron of silver then thats the approx thinks of silver on that item
Each micron of silver last around one year before it wears out. Thats why at Edinburgh Silver we recommend and sell Silver picture frames with 10 microns of silver.
If looked after with care your picture frame would last you well over ten years.
Some silver picture frames are so cheap because the lack of quantity of silver. These are imported from China and India and the base metal is zinc
No Zinc is not silver. Zinc when treated has a very similar colour to silver, hence why they use it to disguise poor quality silver imitations.
It is a spray that gives a thin protective coating to silver. Designed so the silver is not in direct contact with the air.
Its the natural reaction of silver with the air we breath. The elements in the atmosphere cause silver to tarnish. The best way to stop your silverware tarnishing is to use it on a regular basis : IE cutlery. Everything else brush lightly with a soft cloth.
Genuine silver will have the 925 stamped on there along with a stamp from an Assay office. Either London, Birmingham, Sheffield or Edinburgh.
Britannia Silver has more actually silver in the finished product. Normal silver is stamped 925. Britannia Silver is hallmarked 958
Britannia Silver Wiki
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