Sterling silver is an alloy of silver that contains 92.5% pure silver and is one of the most popular silver mixes used in jewelry. The remaining 7.5% of sterling silver alloy is made up of usually one other metal such as copper, germanium, zinc or platinum and these serve the primary purpose of hardening the silver.

Pure silver itself is not used in jewelry as it is too soft and not ‘workable’. Sterling silver jewelry should be marked with a stamp ’925′ or possibly ‘ster’ to indicate its purity. Use this online calculator to instantly calculate how much sterling silver is worth right now at today’s spot price.

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Sterling Silver

Whereas copper is most often the secondary metal used in the alloy as it is readily available, it has a tendency to tarnish which means that the silver can discolor and darken over the years.

Alloys with the other metals have demonstrated a better resistance to this tarnishing and staining and indeed research into sterling silver alloys is still in progress.

For example, recent improvements include rhodium-plating which confers upon 925 sterling silver jewelry a high level of tarnish and scratch resistance. Such items are known as ‘platinum enhanced sterling silver’.

British sterling pieces bear hallmarks, symbols and letters indicating maker place of origin, and year of manufacture, as well as the sterling mark, a standing lion (Lion Passant).

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