Differences Between Sterling Silver & 925 Sterling Silver

Written by ann deiterich
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Jewellery and decorative items made from silver and sterling silver have been prized for centuries. Silver's designations can be confusing.

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Difference

There is no difference between sterling silver and 925 sterling silver. Silver's purity carries a numeric designation based on 1,000. Pure silver usually carries a 999 rating. Sterling silver must be 92.5 per cent pure (or 925) to be classified as sterling silver.

Silver Properties

Silver's chemical symbol is Ag, and it has an atomic number of 47. In its purest form, silver is very soft, and therefore not very functional for jewellery or utensils.

Sterling Silver

To improve silver's functionality, pure silver is mixed with other metals (usually copper). Sterling silver contains 92.5 per cent silver and 7.5 per cent copper or other alloy. Metals containing less than 92.5 per cent silver are not sterling.

Markings

Since the mid-19th century, sterling silver made in the United States is marked as such. It is either stamped with the word "sterling," or it may be stamped with "925."

Silverplate

Do not confuse sterling silver with silverplate. As noted, sterling silver is 92.5 per cent pure silver mixed with another alloy. On the other hand, silverplate is a base metal that carries a very thin coat of sterling silver.

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