Nickel Silver is a tough and malleable metal. Silver-grey in appearance, it is an alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc.
Not considered for architectural uses in the pure metal form, nickel is more expensive in comparison to other metals. For this reason, Nickel Silver is typically used as plating or as an alloy constituent with other metals. Nickel is a common alloying constituent in stainless steel, particularly those used for architectural cladding. Nickel today finds its greatest use in austenitic stainless-steel alloys rather than as a stand-alone metal cladding or plating.
History of Nickel Alloys
In China, and later in Europe, an alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc was in use for several centuries. This alloy is known today as German silver or nickel silver. Nickel silver contains from 20 to 25 percent nickel, which gives it a beautiful golden silver appearance. Nickel is commonly used in conjunction with copper. The two metals are soluble in any proportion.
Nickel can be polished to a bright, high, lustrous appearance, or it can be given a fine satin or "angel hair" finish. It will, however, dull out on exposure to the atmosphere as the oxide grows on the surface. Over time, nickel will develop a greenish gray patina.