What is Sterling Silver?
The highest quality silver for jewelry is called Sterling Silver or 925 Silver. It is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper, which helps strengthen and stabilize the metal. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.
Is pure silver better?
Fine silver, for example 99.9% pure silver, is generally too soft for producing functional objects; therefore, the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength while preserving the ductility and beauty of the precious metal.
Here are three main reasons pure silver is not good for making jewelry:
– Pure silver is not ductile, meaning it can’t be easily formed into jewelry or adjusted to fit
– Pure silver is soft, making it less functional
– Pure silver will mix with small amounts of hydrogen sulfide in air and will tarnish
How is it stamped?
Typically 925 silver will be stamped with a “S925”, “925”, “Sterling”, or “Ster” marking. Not all 925 silver is marked, so you may need to consult the seller on how the quality and purity is assured. Often, if a silver item is not marked the jewelry may only be electroplated with Silver—which makes its value much lower than 925 silver. Metallurgists or reputable jewelry dealers may be able to confirm the purity of the silver by measuring or by applying chemical tests to the metal. Purity test kits for silver can also be purchased and tested at home.