So, you have a piece of jewelry, let’s say a ring, that has a 925 stamp on it, and you don’t know what the number means? Well, you’re in the right place, because in the following paragraphs we’ll talk about the 925 stamp, what it means, whether it makes your jewelry more valuable, and how it differs from other stamps. So, let’s get started right away!
What Are Jewelry Stamps Or Markings?
Jewelry stamps or markings are numbers and letters that indicate some of the most important information about a particular piece of jewelry. So, when buying, or receiving jewelry, it can be really useful to know the meaning of the markings, as they can help you determine the purity, value, and history of the jewelry piece. Here’s what these stamps usually represent;
- Metal content – the majority of jewelry stamps or markings represent the metal content in a piece of jewelry. These markings can help people who are not trained or jewelry experts differentiate between types of silver or gold jewelry, especially the ones that look almost identical. For example, without these markings, people wouldn’t be able to differentiate between sterling silver and silver-plated jewelry, because they look almost the same.
- Jewelry manufacturer – jewelry markings and stamps are not legally required. However, if a jewelry manufacturer does stamp the jewelry, they are legally required to also place their or the retailer’s trademark next to the very markings. This can help the customer know that the jewelry they’re buying comes from a legit source, verified manufacturer and that is high in quality. Many customers use this information to avoid scams or paying more than the jewelry’s actual value.
So, What Does 925 Marking Mean?
Now, if a piece of jewelry you have, for example, a ring, has a 925 marking, it means that you’re a proud owner of a sterling silver ring. Sterling silver is a combination of different metal types, also known as an alloy. This means that, unlike pure silver which contains 99.9% elemental silver or Ag, sterling silver contains other metals as well.
Sterling silver, therefore, contains 92.5% of silver, as indicated by the markings. The remaining 7.5% of the metal is usually copper, while there can also be zinc or nickel. Either way, the additional 7.5% of metal is there to make the silver stronger and more durable, since silver on its own is rather delicate. Copper is most commonly used as an addition and is preferred by the majority of jewelry makers and collectors.
Note: Jewelry made from pure or fine silver has 999 stamp or marking, since it contains 99.9% of elemental silver, and has no additional metals. Also, in the case of silver-plated jewelry, there won’t be 925 stamp on it. Not to mention that in the jewelry world, the terms ‘sterling silver’ and ‘silver’ are the same and often refer to sterling silver only; when the silver is pure, that is often emphasized.
Why Is Silver Mixed With Metals?
One of the main reasons sterling silver contains other metals lies in the natural softness of the pure silver. Pure silver is simply too soft and too delicate to be handled and made into jewelry on its own. That is why the addition of metals like copper, zinc or nickel increases the strength and hardness of the silver, making it more durable and suitable to be used in jewelry making.
Because it is mixed with metals, sterling silver is bright, metallic, and shiny. It has a wonderful appearance, and when combined with gemstones, makes incredible pieces of jewelry. However, sterling silver does have its downsides; one of the biggest disadvantages of sterling silver is that it can tarnish. Because of it, it requires regular and proper maintenance and cleaning. This can be done by jewelry experts who polish the silver and do not only make it clean but also increase its durability.
Note: Jewelry that contains less than 92.5% of silver is not considered to be sterling silver. This is important to have in mind when buying sterling silver jewelry, especially if it has no markings. So, make sure to always ask the seller and jewelry provider about the silver contents in a piece of jewelry.
Does 925 Marking Stand For High Quality?
Sterling silver or the 92.5% silver is one of the highest quality precious metals you can come across. This type of silver is generally used as a base for gemstone jewelry sets and can be combined with different tones of gold. Sterling silver on its own is the best quality silver you can get when considering durability, maintenance, and price.
Now, why do we say that 92.5% silver is better than pure, 99.9% silver? Well, pure silver is of high quality, but it is very delicate and soft. So, in the jewelry world, if a precious metal is soft and delicate, it is not considered to be of high quality. Soft and delicate precious metals are often associated with easy damage, short-lasting jewelry, demanding maintenance, etc. That is why sterling silver, which contains other metals that add to its strength and durability, is considered the highest possible quality of this precious metal.
How Can I Differ Between Real And Fake Sterling Silver?
Now, looking for the 925 stamp or marking on a piece of jewelry is the fastest way of identifying whether the jewelry is made from sterling silver or not. Certified sterling silver will contain either the marking numbers 925 or in some cases the word ‘sterling’. However, sometimes you will come across labels like STG, SS, S925, or STER. These labels are also authentic markings of sterling silver.
But, how can you tell that ‘sterling silver’ jewelry is fake? Well, there are several ways you can do that, just by running a few simple tests;
- The magnet test – by using a heavy-duty magnet, you can quickly check whether you’re in possession of sterling silver or fake silver. Just place the magnet near the jewelry, and if it moves or sticks to the magnet than the silver is not sterling. We advise you use a heavy-duty magnet, and not an ordinary one, since small, fridge-type magnets may not be strong enough to elicit any response from the metals mixed with silver.
- The cloth test – sterling silver is known to oxidize when exposed to air, which leads to chemical changes. To elicit these changes on a piece of ‘silver’ jewelry, simply rub a soft cloth on the jewelry. If the surface starts changing colors or producing black marks, that indicates that the silver is sterling. Fake sterling silver would not produce any changes in color or black marks.
- The ice test – sterling silver, or silver in general has the highest thermal conductivity among precious metals. So, if you place a cube of ice directly on top of silver jewelry, and it melts immediately (like, if you put ice on top of a hot surface), then the silver is sterling. If the ice doesn’t start melting right away, then you’re dealing with fake silver.
These are the most common ways you can check whether your silver jewelry is real or fake. There are also some other tips, like smelling the jewelry (real sterling silver doesn’t have an odor, while the fake silver does). However, you can always simply get a second opinion with a jewelry expert, or do the old price tag trick, where the more expensive jewelry is, the less fake it is.
What About 925 Markings On Gold Jewelry?
Many people think that 925 markings on gold jewelry show that it contains 925/1000 gold, or that the gold jewelry piece is 92.5% in gold content. Unfortunately, that is completely false. As we said before, 925 markings are only used on sterling silver jewelry, and the numbers do not correspond to any karat numbers. When it comes to gold, we can translate the 92.5% purity of sterling silver, which would be 22 karats in gold purity. So, if you see 925 markings on a supposedly gold piece of jewelry, know that it is completely fake, and probably doesn’t contain gold at all.
Sterling Silver In Jewelry
Sterling silver is not only used to make wonderful rings. It is rather versatile and it can be made into any type of jewelry you can think of. Sterling silver makes anything more elegant, classy, and timeless, so here are some of the most popular ways sterling silver is paired in jewelry;
- Rings – engagement, wedding, and other types of rings can be made from sterling silver. The silver, in these cases, often serves as a metal casing for gemstones, which look incredible with sterling silver. Rings that are made with sterling silver are hypoallergenic, and won’t cause skin irritation or leave any skin marks.
- Necklaces – jewelry designers use sterling silver to make wonderful necklace chains and pendants. Sterling silver is a durable and reliable piece of precious metal that can hold gemstones and jewel, and create a wonderful base for them.
- Earrings – earrings made from cheap metals can cause skin irritation and even result in ear infections and bleeding. But, earrings made from sterling silver are hypoallergenic, and won’t damage your skin or cause infections. That is why it is recommended we buy sterling silver earrings, which are, by the way, incredibly beautiful and often paired with gemstones.
- Bracelets – bracelets can also be made from sterling silver. It can serve as a casing for gemstones, or sterling silver can be the main star on its own. Either way, it will surely provide a beautiful shine and serve as great detail on your wrist.