Alpaca Silver is a metal alloy of copper, nickel and sometimes zinc or iron. The metal is a shiny silver color that looks similar to stainless steel. It does not contain any Alpaca (the animal). That question comes up often.
Alpaca Silver is often used in making alpaca silver jewelry and crafts in Mexico, Central America and South America. It is also common in and has been historically used through out most parts of the world and may go by other names such as German Silver or Nickel Silver.
People with extreme Nickel allergies should avoid wearing Alpaca Silver Jewelry just to be on the safe side, but as a whole Alpaca Silver is usually quite innocuous. Aside from those with metal allergies Alpaca Silver is a wonderful material for jewelry.
The Alpaca material itself is considerably less expensive than sterling silver, but gives the beautiful silver appearance.
Alpaca Silver is a durable material. It is very malleable allowing it to be formed into intricately detailed works while at the same time being solid and sturdy enough to hold the desired shape.
There is no need to heat the metal to work it into wire designs and chains. Most work is simply done with a needle nose pliers, though working the pieces with a hammer and anvil is an option that gives another dimension to the endless design possibilities and assures the shaped metal is locked into place.
Natural Artist Alpaca Silver Jewelry is handmade by talented Peruvian and Mexican fair trade artisans. The alpaca necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings incorporate real semi-precious gemstones, handmade glass, and abalone. The materials for each design is listed in the product's description.
Alpaca Silver does not need to be coated to protect its shine and it does not rust. The beautiful silver luster of Alpaca Silver usually maintains itself. It can oxidize slightly over time or due to harsh treatment or environment, though not nearly as quickly or as easily as sterling silver does. Many people like the delicate patina alpaca silver can achieve over time, but if you prefer the silver shine it is very easy to clean and polish.
How to care for and polish Alpaca Silver Jewelry (blog article coming soon).