Silver plated flatware is comprised of a metal alloy base coated with pure silver by the electro-plating process. The base metal may be copper or "nickel silver" which is composition of nickel, copper and zinc. The quality of the flatware is determined by the thickness of silver coating. Silver plated flatware needs regular polishing, just like sterling silver flatware, however, over time, the silver coating could wear off a bit. Silver plated flatware is a great, and more economical alternative to sterling silver flatware.