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Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.
SILVER, for example 99.9% pure silver, is relatively soft, so silver is usually alloyed with copper to increase its hardness and strength. Sterling silver is prone to tarnishing, and elements other than copper can be used in alloys to reduce tarnishing, as well as casting porosity and fire scale. Such elements include germanium, zinc, platinum, silicon, and boron. Recent examples of alloys using these metals include argentium, sterlium, sterilite and silvadium.
Morenci turquoise is another American classic, highly regarded and sought after by collectors. Though the Morenci turquoise mine produces a wide range of colors from blue to green, the most desirable is a deep blue color with a heavy iron pyrite matrix and occasionally some spider webbing.
The Morenci turquoise mine is located in Southeastern Arizona. It is the by-product of a large open-pit copper mining operation and dates back to 1864. William “Lucky” Brown was offered the mining rights in the 1950s and the Brown family has worked the mine since. Though no turquoise is actively being produced at the Morenci mine, small amounts do still come to market each year from the stock that was mined previously.