Silver clay or metal silver? Sterling silver compared to fine silver

Silver clay is a great material but it’s not perfect. Less solid, easily scratched and quite expensive. One gram of fired silver clay costs about 2 euro, while the silver plate will cost around 1.20 euro per gram.

As I get more experience, I ask myself with every piece I make: what material would be optimal for this piece? Mechanically, aesthetically and economically. I have listed my experiences in the following table, which contains not all but the most important choice situations.

Here is sterling silver compared to clay-based fine silver



Fine silver/ Silverclay

Sterling/ Metal silver

Ring: shank

Preferably not, unless it constitutes one whole with the top or the ring has a sculptured shape (like tree branch etc.)

Silver sheet (cut in strips) and silver wire of all possible shapes (round, square, semicircular etc)

Ring: top

Perfect, but think beforehand about the connection with the shank and (if applicable) the setting for the stone

All kinds of


Only sections, connected with rings or joints, never a whole bracelet which is under mechanical stress

All kinds of

Beads (such as Pandora)

An excellent choice, especially with patterns.

Ready-made beads, beads which are soldered,forged or wrapped from wire

Pendants and earrings

Ideal for:
1. Patterns, drawings and textures
2. Molds
3. 3D shapes
Thin snakes rolled from clay or pressed from syringe should always be attached to a supporting base. They can easily break when unsupported.

Silver sheet is suitable for regular and flat shapes but also for cut pieces (if you are handy with the saw). Texturizing and shaping can be done using such techniques as casting, etching etc.

For making thinner shapes such as flower stalks, insect legs or filigree elements use (fine or sterling) silver wire as it is much more  strong and flexible.


Only for smaller co-fired synthetic stones

All kinds of bezels


Only for fancy-shape bails

All types of bails

Other findings (clasps, chain rings, hooks, etc.)

Not suitable

The only suitable material


Just one comment. This table is compiled by a hobbyist with all technical limitations of a hobby. With professional technology, such as engraving, images can be made on silver sheet as easily as they are carved on dry clay. Silver can be also cast in molds, only the molds are made form a different material than silicone which is mainly used for silver clay. This table is open to comments of other people who have experience with silver clay. All comments are welcome.

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