Alpaca silver (sometimes spelled
"Alpacca") is a "fake silver" used often as a
replacement for sterling silver in jewelry designs.
It is made by combining copper (60%), nickel (20%), zinc
(20%), and tin (5%).
The effect is a grayish material that some people think
resembles silver. It is often used as the base
metal for silver plating in jewelry and other items.
Alpaca silver is sometimes referred to as
nickel silver, German silver, Paktong,
and New Silver. It was first formulated in
Germany in the 1800s by two chemists, Henninger and
A chief advantage of Alpaca silver is that it
is inexpensive and does not rust or tarnish.
However, over time it can look dingy and form a green
patina (owing to its copper content). With alpaca,
beautiful jewelry can be made quite inexpensively, such
as the alpaca piece to the right, adorned with
The important thing to keep in mind is
that Alpaca silver jewelry contains no silver.
It is an imposter, and a good one at that.
We have absolutely no problem with people selling Alpaca
silver jewelry, as long as they disclose that their
"silver" is silverless. Most reputable
merchants do so, to their credit.
silver is sometimes sold fraudulently as sterling silver.
We have also seen alpaca sold on site with descriptions
that suggest that the merchants do not know what they
professional will ever be fooled by Alpaca silver, but
many consumers have no doubt been tricked. That is
not to say that Alpaca silver jewelry cannot be
beautiful; it certainly can be. It just does not
have the look and luster of silver.
One disadvantage is that individuals who
are sensitive to nickel may develop a rash (contact
dermatitis) if they wear Alpaca silver jewelry.