Differences Between Sterling Silver & 925 Sterling Silver

Updated March 23, 2017

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


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.


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."


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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About the Author

Ann Deiterich has been a writer since 1984 in business-to-business communications, specializing in TQM, business/financial topics, office management and production efficiency. As an environmental proponent, nature and science are her areas of interest. Deiterich holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Albright college and has three expert rating certifications including Grammar, Words/Phrases and Advertising Skills.