Hi there and happy Friday! I was inspired to write a post dedicated to silver after coming across an old “silver” ring the other day. I remember buying it, wearing it around all day only to find my finger green that night. I bought this ring when I was a little younger and had a smaller jewelry budget. As I’ve grown up, I realized that buying this cheap ring ended up costing me more – I haven’t worn that ring since and that money spent was essentially thrown away. Had I spent a little more money on real silver or sterling silver, I’d still be wearing that ring and my money wouldn’t have gone to waste. Since the price of silver keeps going up, I thought we’d revisit identifying silver and provide more background on the differences you may find.
As in our blog about gemstones, we want to keep you from getting ripped off when buying a piece of jewelry. Let’s start off with the difference between the silver and sterling silver: pure silver, 99% pure, is too soft to make jewelry or anything else while sterling silver is what jewelry is typically made from. If you see “999”, meaning 99.9%, stamped onto an item, it is considered pure silver. If you see “925”, or 92.5%, stamped onto an item it is considered Sterling Silver (mixed with 7.5% Copper to make it stronger than regular silver). In the United States, a minimum of 92.5% fine silver is required in order to be marketed as silver. In addition, you’ll find silver-plated jewelry or objects meaning there is a thin coating of silver place over the base metal, such as copper. As you may guess, these pieces will be less expensive than sterling silver pieces.
After that silver introduction, let’s say you’re thinking about buying a ring, pair of earrings, or something else that tickles your fancy… Now that we know pure silver cannot be made into jewelry, how will we be able to tell if something is sterling silver or just silver-plated?
- If the vendor is reputable everything should be labeled.
As you can see with our Team Spirit Cluster Earrings, there are two drop down choices for either silver-plated or sterling silver wrap and findings.
- The price tag should be a good indication. A lower cost piece of jewelry is likely silver plated versus sterling silver.
- As listed above, a real sterling silver piece should have a stamp with “925” or “.925” somewhere to indicate it’s sterling silver. Silver plated items may have single digit stamps or words like heavy plate or triple or EPNS (Electroplated Nickel Silver) indicating they are silver plated.
Once you have your piece, be sure to take care of it to ensure it’s perfect for life! Check out our blog on jewelry care for tips to keep your sterling silver and other jewelry clean and cared for!