Jewelers love using sterling or 925 silver because it's timeless and trendy. It’s also affordable, durable, and doesn’t tarnish easily. But what does 925 on jewelry really mean? You might also be wondering why you’re seeing it on gold jewelry? We’ll answer all of your questions below.
What Does 925 Mean On Silver Jewelry?
When it comes to silver jewelry, 925 means that it's composed of 92.5% silver, with other elements such as copper taking up the remaining 7.5%. This is done because silver is very soft in pure form so mixing it with harder metals makes your jewelry more durable. The 7.5% other metal isn’t always copper. It can also be zinc or nickel but copper is preferred for sensitive skin.
The 925 stamp indicates that you have a high-quality piece of silver. On pendants, you’ll often see the stamp on the back, with necklaces and other jewelry you’ll usually see it on the clasp, and if your piece is small, you may need a magnifying glass or loupe to find it.
925 Silver Or Sterling Silver, Is There a Difference?
Sterling silver and 925 silver are the same things. Both are composed of 92.5% silver, with either copper, zinc, or nickel making up the remaining 7.5%. In fact, it has to be 92.5% or higher to be considered sterling.
Globally, 92.5% is the strictly enforced standard for sterling silver. In countries like France, the standard is a little higher at 95% pure silver. Silver pieces stamped with 800 or 900 only have 80% and 90% silver, respectively, and aren't 925—so look out for this when you're searching for the real thing.
There’s also a relatively new silver called Argentium Silver. This has a unicorn stamp, it’s shinier, doesn’t tarnish and it’s made from either 93.5% or 96% silver with the remainder being other metals like germanium.
Is .925 Silver Durable?
As mentioned, silver is naturally soft in its purest form. Making it into an alloy increases its hardness and durability. This alloy has the luster that silver jewelry should have while keeping hardness so you can wear it daily without major damage. The downside is that it does tarnish so silver jewelry should be cleaned at least monthly if you’re wearing it daily.
Things To Consider When Buying 925 Jewelry
Jewelry with names like nickel silver, German silver, and alpaca aren't 925 silver. You might be allergic to or have skin reactions when wearing jewelry made from these cheap metals, especially if they're earrings. For example, nickel can give you contact dermatitis, which is annoying and itchy. Sterling silver won't cause you irritations.
What Does 925 Mean When Stamped On Gold Jewelry?
You may have noticed that you have a piece of gold jewelry with the 925 stamp on it. Is it fake? Not necessarily. If you have a gold piece with a 925 mark, it's most likely sterling silver underneath gold plating. You'll normally see this kind of stamp on a gold vermeil (pronounced as "ver-may"), meaning that it's sterling silver that has gold plating.
In the U.S., gold vermeil has to be at least 10 karats, which means that it's roughly 42% gold, at approximately 2.5 microns thick.
How To Tell If Your Gold Is Plated Or Pure
When checking your gold jewelry for other stamps, look for GP, GEP, RGP, HGE, and HGP, commonly on gold-plated jewelry. If you don't see any marks indicating that it's plated, then you can always have it tested. Jewelers test your piece by applying acid to a small piece of material taken from your jewelry. From this, they can determine the gold's karat and help you find out if the piece is gold plated.
Why We Love Sterling Silver & You Should Too
Sterling or 925 silver is timeless. It’s used in every type of jewelry from rings to necklaces and has been used for thousands of years. Additionally, if you like silver, you can build out your collection for a relatively affordable price - especially when compared to gold or platinum. It’s a beautiful precious metal that’s shiny, durable, and not so expensive that you’ll lose your mind if it gets a scratch. It’s perfect for everyday wear and can be dressed up or down depending on the environment.