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German Silver

What Is German Silver

German silver or nickel silver is an alloy of chiefly copper, zinc and nickel and is occasionally found to contain trace amounts of tin and lead. It is known for its toughness, hardness and corrosion resistance. From its name, some people mistakenly think that one of its constituents is silver. But it bears that word in its name due to its silver-white color. Note that the term ‘silver’ is now prohibited for alloys that don’t contain the metal. It was discovered in the early 19th century by E.A. Geitner, a German industrial chemist [1, 3].

German Silver

Composition [1]

Copper 50%-61.6%
Nickel 21.1%-30%
Zinc 17.2%-19%

Nickel Silver

German Silver Belt Buckle

Uses of Nickel Silver

  1. For making tableware (as the base metal of silver-plated cutlery), plumbing fixtures and marine fittings [1, 2].
  2. Its high electrical resistance suits its application in heating coils [1].
  3. For making zippers, musical instruments, keys, costume jewelry, etc [2].
  4. In ornamental and architectural metalwork, some food and chemical equipment [4].
  5. In a hard-rolled strip form, it finds application in spring elements, especially for electrical and telecommunication relays [4].

German Silver Coins

Interesting Facts

  • The alloy does not tarnish like silver and costs much less [5].
  • Due to its high luster, it is used for manufacturing gift items [2].

Nickel Silver Sheet


  1. German silver –
  2. What Is German Silver & Why Is It Called “German”? –
  3. Why is German Silver called so? –
  4. Nickel silver –
  5. Nickel Silver –

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