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What Is Sterling Silver and What Does '925' Mean?

Posted by Stacey Hodkinson on

What does the hallmark 925 mean on silver jewellery?

The 925 stamp on silver jewellery is all about the purity of the silver. It means that for every 1000 parts of material in the jewellery piece, 925 parts must be made of silver and no more than 75 parts should be a different metal. Antique silver & antique jewellery specialists AC Silver, state on their page dedicated to silver purity that the system denoting the purity or grade of silver is called millesimal fineness, a system that also includes gold and platinum. They explain that millesimal fineness indicates the purity of silver by parts per thousand of pure metal by mass in the alloy. For sterling silver, the minimal millesimal fineness is 925. It is what is known as the ‘sterling standard’. A 925 sterling silver hallmark is stamped on the bottom of each genuine piece. The stamp and its shape are different depending on the country the silver has been made in.

Sterling 925 silver is the metal of choice for the Aquila silver jewellery collections. All our silver 925 jewellery carries the sterling standard as a form of quality assurance for our customers. Why not check your next Aquila piece for its 925 silver stamp?

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver is a combination of two metals. Pure or fine silver comprises 92.5% of the mixture and the other 7.5% consists of a different metal, usually copper. It is impossible to have silver jewellery made from 99.9% pure or fine silver because the content is far too soft to use alone. In order to harden the silver and to maintain the colour and lustre, pure silver is mixed with additional metal so that the new compound is firm and durable enough to be worked with by silversmiths. 

According to the history of sterling silver from silvergallery.com, sterling silver has been ‘heralded for centuries for its highly lustrous finish and versatile applications’, and we couldn’t agree more!

In our sterling silver Aquila ranges, our sterling 925 silver is guaranteed to be 92.5% pure silver mixed with copper (never nickel). The addition of copper metal allows for our jewellery to bear the gorgeous handmade designs of our highly skilled artisans. Take a look at our unique Sydney Collection for some authentic sterling silver designs to be inspired by. 

Is sterling silver real silver?

Yes, and no. Real silver is a single metal element. Sterling silver is a compound of two metals, real silver and copper, for the reasons explained above. 

Which is better, sterling silver or silver plated jewellery?

Sterling silver as we know is made up of pure silver combined with a small percentage of copper. Adversely, silver plated jewellery contains only an alloy of real silver, with a base metal of nickel, copper, brass or white metal constituting a majority of the compound. 

Over time, silver plated jewellery will begin to fade and tarnish away, exposing the base metal. Those who have sensitive skin may find a reaction occurs when this happens because of the presence of nickel. 

There’s no doubt that 925 sterling silver jewellery is better than silver plated jewellery in appearance, quality and longevity of life. Take a look at some of our sterling silver bracelet ranges to see the quality sterling silver jewellery you can expect from us.

How to spot fake silver? 

All too often fake silver is sold to people under the pretence that it is real silver. It may have the high shine and colour of sterling silver but underneath it is a totally different story. We’ve put together some fast and easy tips below on how to spot fake silver so you can always know your stuff.

Any more tips on how to find out if your silver is fake or real?

Put ice on the piece of silver in question. If it is real silver, it will melt quicker. You could use a piece of genuine silver as a comparison and study the rate at which the ice melts.

Handle the piece of jewellery. How does it feel? If it is easily bendable and soft, it is probably silver. If the jewellery feels firm and stiff chances are it is not. For a professional assessment, take it to an expert.

When silver starts to tarnish, does that mean it is fake?

No, it doesn’t. If sterling silver begins to tarnish it doesn’t mean that the jewellery is low quality or purity; in fact, it is totally normal for it to tarnish after contact with skin, skincare products or sweat. The Victoria and Albert Museum offers a more in-depth look at the topic in their Conservation Journal Issue 18 Tarnishing of Silver: A Short Review. 

How do you look after your new piece of silver jewellery?

We’re going to cover everything to do with silver tarnishing and care in our next post so don’t worry, if you have some less than fabulous looking silver jewellery - we will tell you exactly how to bring it back to life!

Any questions? Use our Contact Us form to get in touch.

The Aquila Jewellery Team

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