The Sign of Purity

It is always lovely to be able to get back to writing.

A recent enquiry led me to do a little writing on whys and what’s of metals and clear some of the myths surrounding them. . Let’s start with silver as my work is predominantly with silver.

Myth: 92.5 silver or .925silver

Truth: It is not 92.5 silver, it is .925 silver and is commonly known as sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.

Myth: All silver jewelry is made with fine silver or .999 silver

Truth: Fine silver, for example 99.9% pure silver, is generally too soft for producing functional objects; therefore, the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength while preserving the ductility and appearance of the precious metal. Often other metals can replace the copper, usually with the intention of improving various properties of the basic sterling alloy such as reducing casting porosity, eliminating firescale, and increasing resistance to tarnish. Some of these metals are germaniumzinc and platinumsilicon and boron. Alloys such as argentium silver have appeared in recent decades.

However, PMC or precious metal clay, has .where they do have fine silver and can be used for small productions and definitely not mass productions.

Myth: Silver is always stamped and denotes its purity

Truth: Acceptable quality marks for sterling silver are sterling, sterling silver, ster, and .925

With that said, there are sterling plated jewelry that are also stamped .925. Technically, if a copper jewelry is plated with .925, it can have the plating mentioned as .925, but does not denote its purity. ( NOT ALL SELLER RESORT TO THIS THOUGH)

Myth: 925 is hallmark for silver.

Truth: Hall mark is the sign of the purity and fineness in a metal. To be hall marked it is imperative to have the makers mark or who made the article, and assay office mark in the nation where the metal was tested and marked, and a guaranteed standard of fineness mark, and the year in which the article was tested and mark. However the date mark has been done away with. It is an expensive process and jewelers dealing in fine jewelry resort to it, even though it may raise the price of their products. As one believes in, that there is no substitute to quality!

To be hall marked the requisites are:

  • Anything which is to be described as silver, gold, platinum or palladium must be hallmarked if it is to be sold as such, unless it falls beneath the appropriate exemption weight.
  • All precious metals must be of the minimum legal fineness or the article cannot be hallmarked.
  • Precious metals below the minimum fineness cannot be regarded as a base Metal.
  • Exemption Weights for Mixed Precious and Non-Precious Articles are based on the total weight of metal in the article (i.e. excluding stones or other non-metal parts). In case of gold and Silver
  • Gold

All articles with a component to be described as gold in which the total weight of all metal is over 1 gram will need to be hallmarked.

  • Silver

All articles with a component to be described as silver in which the total weight of all metal is over 7.78 grams will need to be hallmarked.

Myth: Sterling silver is the same as plated silver

Truth: Sterling silver items contain a minimum of 92.5% pure silver. Silver-plated items are made of a lesser quality metal and then covered with a thin layer of silver, making them less valuable than objects made of sterling silver. Sterling silver will last for a long time if cared for properly, whereas silver-plating generally does not last longer than 20 years. Fluorescent x-rays are used by those in the jewelry industry to distinguish between sterling silver and silver-plated items.