We have all heard the term “.925 sterling” at some point when buying silver, but do we really know what each thing refers to? Most likely, some people do understand what it means, either because of their profession or studies, their experience buying silver, or because they are especially curious about these types of terms. Others probably associate the term with silver jewelry, but do not know exactly what it means or its implications.
As we have mentioned before, the founders of Lolo grew up in Taxco, Guerrero, a magical town specialized in the crafting of silver. Moreover, they grew up watching their mother start her own business with a silver store. Being able to grow up witnessing this, provided them with the privilege of accessing silver workshops where artisans share the wisdom of both modern and ancient techniques to make sterling silver jewelry as well as the specifics of this craft.
That is why we decided to write this week’s blog, to briefly explain what .925 sterling silver is, sharing this knowledge, their advice, and so that we can learn in greater detail the importance of distinguishing what we get when buying silver jewelry, such as necklaces, rings, or earrings. So, let’s jump into the specifics of silver to understand it better.
Silver pieces in what is considered their “finest” or “purest” state are not made entirely of silver, but instead are part silver and a portion of another metal. For a piece of silver to have good resistance, it must be mixed with other metals, because in its purest state, silver as a metal is too malleable, flexible, and weak. In fact, the purest silver is also the one that can be most easily damaged, and it would be impossible to make a piece of jewelry with 100% silver.
Today, the .925 composition is the most common in silver quality products and the term sterling refers to that degree of purity in the piece. This means that it is an alliance (or alloy) made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other element from the periodic table that can include zinc, copper, or nickel, but mostly copper is used. But why copper? Although other metals are occasionally used to blend with the silver, copper has proven to be the best component for this alliance, improving its strength, and increasing the durability of the piece.
Another very important reason copper is used is that it does not affect or change the original color of silver; it can affect the value of the piece minimally, but it increases its composition and resistance.
How to know if a piece of jewelry really is .925 silver?
It is important to know if the product we are buying is made of silver or not. Many times, the product at first sight is shiny enough and finished in a way that it might seem real silver. Unfortunately, the reality is that a piece could be made of a lesser amount of silver, it could simply be silver plated (a metal coated with silver) or worse, another lesser-value metal. For someone who is not in the trade, it is in fact difficult to know when we are buying exactly .925 silver unless one pays attention to the stamp, or the price, or that you buy it in a reputable store.
Here are some tips or tricks so that you can distinguish a .925 silver piece of jewelry from the one that is not. This way you will have criteria to be able to differentiate it.
The mark or stamp “.925”
When a piece of jewelry is made of .925 silver, it usually bears a mark or stamp with that number. Look closely and, if it has it, it is most likely .925 silver. Keep in mind that this mark or stamp is not always present, especially if the piece is too small or delicate, it may not be punched to prevent it from being damaged.
The price of .925 silver
Another of the easiest ways to know whether a piece is .925 silver is the price of the piece. Like everything in life, what is good and of high quality has a higher price than what is of worse quality. Many jewelry pieces look very similar to .925 silver but may only be silver plated. If the price of the jewel is very low, it can be a good indicator that it is not.
Use a magnet to detect 925 silver
A very easy trick to tell if something is silver is to use a magnet. This precious metal does not offer magnetism to the magnet, or it is very weak. On the other hand, if the piece is made of other metals, they will show that magnetism, so the magnet will remain attached to the piece. So, an easy way is to pass a magnet through your pieces. Although running a magnet may create some magnetism (silver is blended with other metals, after all), the magnet shouldn't stay totally stuck and the piece should slide down on its own when tilted.
Undoubtedly, one of the best guarantees you can have is buying your sterling silver jewelry from a trusted store/merchant. In the market there are many jewelry companies that claim to sell .925 silver jewelry. Beyond that, and despite having the “.925” seal, or stamp, some are made without meeting the standards of the stamp or quality of the binding of metals.
At Lolo we offer .925 silver from Taxco in all our jewelry designs. Whether in rings, earrings, bracelets, or chains, we ensure quality jewelry for life backed with years of reputation, working side by side with talented artisans, renowned for their experience working this precious metal. Moreover, jewelry from Taxco is unique in the world given that most, if not all processes of fabrication are 100% handmade and, thus, artisanal. So, if you would like to check out our high inventory of sterling silver pieces, be sure to check it out here.
If you would like to read more about Taxco and Lolo’s origins with sterling silver, you cannot miss our blog Artisanal Jewelry: Our Beloved Taxco and Its Talented Hands.
So, what do you think? Did you find this information useful? Is there anything about Silver you would like for us to explain further? Let us know in the comments below and don’t to subscribe to our newsletter where we make sure to share this and many more content of interest and artisanal techniques.