Silver is shiny, bright and casts that signature metallic glint we all know and love. It’s timeless and trendy, and universally used in jewelry making. It’s a tensile metal combining both beauty and durability. Designers—and buyers—can’t get enough of silver.
Silver will likely never go out of style as it’s been cherished for centuries, with origins of discovery in Greece and Turkey (formerly Anatolia) dating back to 3000 BC. Pure silver is precious but too soft to use in jewelry. Add a little alloy to the mix and voila, you’ve got sterling silver! In addition to sterling silver, there’s also silver plate, fine silver, pure silver, nickel silver, and 925 silver.
With so many silvers on the market, how do you know which one to buy? Are all silvers the same? And what’s the difference between sterling silver and 925 silver? Here’s the 411 on sterling silver vs. 925 silver.
You might be wondering what is sterling silver? Sterling silver is an alloy made from 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent alloy. An alloy is essentially the mixture of two (or more) elements taken from the periodic table. Regarding sterling silver, the alloys can include zinc, copper or nickel. While the United States, Europe and most of the world enforces a strict standard of sterling silver at 92.5 silver to 7.5 copper or other alloys, there are other standards. Some countries, including France have a standard of 95 percent, however 92.5 is the most common.
So, that leaves the question: what is 925 silver? Ultimately, it’s the same thing as sterling silver! Sterling silver and 925 silver are both made from the same silver alloy blend, with the only key difference being the name.
The reason sterling silver requires the mixture of other metals is because naturally, pure silver is soft. Adding other metals to the silver increases the hardness, making it more suitable and durable for use in jewelry and housewares like silverware.
The result of this process also produces that signature silver color: bright, shiny and metallic. The only downfall of this beautiful metal is that it can tarnish, which is why it’s important to regularly clean and maintain sterling silver jewelry with polishers.
The purity of silver lands on a numeric scale, or rating system, based on 1,000. Pure silver gets a 999 rating. In order for a silver to be classified as sterling silver, it must meet at least a 92.5 purity, AKA 925. So, as you can see: 925 silver is sterling silver.
Conversely, metals that contain less than 92.5 percent silver are not sterling silver, which is important to keep in mind when buying sterling silver.
The quickest way to identify sterling silver is to look for a mark or stamp, called the “hallmark.” Certified sterling silver will be stamped or marked with the word “sterling” or “925.”
You may often come across hallmarks labeled with “STG” “SS” or “STER,” which are all authentic notations of sterling silver.
Remember how sterling silver and 925 silver are the same thing? With that knowledge, you’ll recognize that any item of silver jewelry labeled sterling or 925 is in fact sterling silver!
One of the best things about sterling silver is that it can be styled with anything. It’s versatile, elegant, timeless and great for any occasion. From casual dinners to formal occasions, sterling silver adds that classy touch of shine that elevates style without overpowering it. Here are some popular types of sterling silver jewelry:
Pendants: Jewelers and designers use sterling silver as an elegant and reliable metal casing for pendants to hold jewels and stones.
Rings: Many rings are made with sterling silver as it’s hypoallergenic and won’t leave marks or irritate the skin.
Necklaces: Sterling silver is often used for necklace chains and pendants.
Earrings: Often, earrings are made with cheaper metals which cause irritation and can lead to bleeding and infection. Next time you fall in love with a pair of earrings, make sure they’re sterling silver.
Bracelets: Add a touch of shine with the flick of a wrist with a gorgeous sterling silver bracelet.
We’ve learned that there’s no difference between sterling silver and 925 silver, but the same can’t be said for other items in the jewelry marketplace. Truth is, the term “silver” alone is quite complex. In fact, this word is popularly used as a label, when in fact silver should always be clearly identified with a hallmark representing its standard grade and quality.
With that information in mind, always look for the hallmark as jewelers and artisans are legally obligated to stamp their pieces for potential buyers.
If you don’t see a stamp, shop elsewhere. It’s not worth buying a low-quality metal disguised with a coating of sterling silver, which ultimately wears off, looks cheap and can lead to skin irritation.
That’s right, cheap metals can irritate the skin and result in allergic reactions, making sterling silver a great option for sensitive skin. Inexpensive metals like nickel or brass can cause infections, especially with earrings.
Bottom line: Sterling silver, aka 925 silver is hypoallergenic, high quality, stylish and safe.
Which beckons the question, who doesn’t love silver?
As you’ve thoroughly learned by now, sterling silver is 925 silver. That said, it’s important to know how sterling silver is made and what the sterling silver standard grades are. With this information, you can ensure that you’re buying authentic sterling silver and adding high-quality items to your jewelry collection.
Sterling silver is evergreen; it has stood the test of time, which means it’ll likely always be in style as a jewelry metal we love. It’s darling, durable and diverse, and we can’t get enough of it! Browse our sterling silver jewelry collection to find the perfect new piece to add to your jewelry box.
Was this article helpful?1 person found this article helpful