How to tell if it is real 925 silver?

Written by graham rix
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How to tell if it is real 925 silver?
An item of silver such as this sugar bowl should carry an assay mark. (silver sugar bowl with silver spoon image by Alex White from

The term '925' refers to "sterling silver." Pure silver is too soft to form into permanent solid objects and so it is mixed with a small amount of copper to strengthen it. Sterling silver's mix dates back to 13th century England and represents 925 parts silver per thousand with the remaining 7.5 per cent made up of copper. This is also known as .925 fineness. Most items of 925 standard silver carry some form of hallmark, so there should be relatively little problem in identifying them.

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  1. 1

    Look first for an impressed '925' mark. This is a numerical assay mark, which signifies that an item has met the legal standard of silver before proceeding to sale. You might also see '900' and '800' marks, for 900 parts and 800 parts silver per thousand respectively.

  2. 2

    Check next for the words 'Sterling' or 'Sterling Silver'. These terms were often used to identify 925 silver. They sometimes appear alongside a '925' stamp, but also on their own.

  3. 3

    Examine the piece for a stamp representing a lion walking sideways. This is the 'lion passant', the assay mark for British silver of .925 fineness. This mark or any of the above will tell you that your item is real 925 silver.

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