I recently had a friend from college contact me about a necklace for a teacher friend of hers. She didn't want to spend much more that $20 but she wanted the silver look. I told her that I could do a washer necklace for her in Nickel Silver instead of Sterling Silver. And instead of using a Sterling Silver chain I could use a Sterling Silver Plated chain. It still has the shine and luster of silver but it only costs a fraction of the price. Nickel silver actually contains no silver at all. It is a copper alloy with nickel and often zinc. The usual formulation is 60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc.
So instead of a piece that would cost about $30 using Sterling Silver, I was able to give her the look she wanted for only $20. I think it looks great and it's thicker and stronger than Sterling Silver and his has a nice high gloss shine to it.