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What are the differences between Silver Sterling and Hill Tribe Silver from Thailand?

Hill Tribe Silver is made by the Karen tribe in Northern Thailand. These hand-crafted pieces are 95% – 99% pure silver. The higher silver content (compared to sterling silver, which is 92.5%) makes the pieces softer and easier to shape. Oxidation, hammer marks, and slight design variances are part of the allure of these distinctive pieces.
Usually, Karen Hill Tribe Silver goes through an oxidation process. This causes the silver items to turn black. The silver is then polished leaving the black coloring only in the grooves of the item, this allows tiny details and patterns to stand out. White Karen Hill Tribe Silver is a silver item that has not gone through the oxidation process before final polishing. As silver is the whitest of all metals, the item appears to be pure white. Most Karen Silver is oxidized, unless stated otherwise. Many of the larger flower pendants come in both finishes, and information can be found either in the product’s title or description.

Karen Hill Tribe silver is 99.9% (100%) Pure Fine Silver. There is no mixing and no added ingredients. It is softer than sterling silver, but will not tarnish as quickly if worn frequently. Fine silver is easier to clean, and has a texture that is soft and complex – very different from its Sterling conterparts.

Not all Hill Tribe silver are Karen, and not all hill tribes use 100% Fine silver to create their jewelry. Some hill tribe silver have been mixed with tin and other metals to produce 95% silver or less (as little as 45% silver).

Karen Silver is different in the sense that it has been made into a sort of cottage industry for the villagers over the past 20 years. Few hill tribes consider silversmithing a genuine form of livelyhood.

Karen silver purchased from is also guaranteed 100% fine silver and 100% handmade.