Hollow form silver components give the look of solid silver components, but without the weight. As the price of silver has risen dramatically in recent years, hollow form silver has become economically viable and a popular alternative. It is more expensive to produce than traditional casting, and costs more per gram of silver, but for chunky designs, the finished piece can sometimes cost only a fraction of the price of solid silver components.
The manufacturing process of hollow form is far more labour intensive and time consuming than traditional casting. It begins with a mould where a wax model is made, much like traditional casting. However, it is then dipped in silver, and left in a plating tank for many hours (sometimes days, depending on the desired thickness and the plating tank). Now the sterling silver has fully enveloped the wax piece, and at the desired thickness. A hole is punched into the bottom of the piece, allowing melted wax to flow out when the piece is heated. Post-casting cleaning of the component is similar for hollow form as it is for traditional casting. However, if the form is thin and large, extra care is taken in the production process to not warp the piece during the polishing, which generates a great deal of heat and friction.
For certain designs, hollow form silver components are ideal. For example, chunky earring components should be light-weight; otherwise, they can become too heavy to wear comfortably. Likewise for necklaces with many chunky nuggets and beads, not only would solid sterling silver be cost prohibitive to the design, it would be too heavy for most people to wear.
For those who want the weight of solid silver components, but not the cost, one can consider cyber silver. Much of the work involved in cyber silver is in the model making, which cannot be made with wax and require a heavy and strong substance, such as stone.
For long necklaces, and pieces married with many stone or heavy components, it is much more desirable to use hollow form silver components to offset the weight, but retain the substantial look of chunks.