.925 (92.5%) is the percentage of pure silver in the piece of jewelry
What the Heck Does "Sterling" Mean?
We hear and see “sterling silver this” and “sterling silver that” almost every day, yet many shoppers do not understand what it really means. Does “sterling” mean “pure”? Does sterling silver jewelry come from a certain part of the world? Is sterling better or worse – or the same – as pure silver? And what does that stamp on the back of my necklace mean when it says “.925”?
By definition and international agreement “sterling” silver is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% some other material – usually copper. The 92.5% is why jewelry is often stamped with the numbers 925 or .925.
Why Mix Copper with Pure Silver?
Now you might think, “oh, well that means sterling silver is not as good as pure silver”. Well, yes and no. It certainly isn’t pure, but sterling silver is mixed to this exact ratio for some very good reasons. Have you ever seen pure silver after a few years in the open air? If not, take a look at your grandmother’s silver spoon collection. Silver tends to oxidize (tarnish) quickly, leaving it a yucky brown color. The 7.5% copper or other metals used to make sterling silver slow down the tarnishing process.
Secondly, pure silver is a very soft metal. It can bend or break easily. Adding another, more durable, metal to the mix ensures that your silver jewelry will last a lot longer, and look a lot nicer down the road. So really, sterling silver – although not pure – is usually the better option when choosing jewelry.
And last but not least, adding another metal – and thus making the silver more durable – makes the substance easier for metal-smiths, jewelers and craftsmen to handle and manipulate into those intricate rings, pendants and necklaces we so adore.
So there you go… next time you’re shopping for some new jewelry, or buying an anniversary gift for your girlfriend / wife, you will understand exactly what the salesperson means when they say “This is sterling silver”… even if they don’t.
Okay, recently I found some beautiful "sterling silver jewelry" on ebay for prices that made my jaw drop. I am thinking this will make great gifts for any occasion so I bought a bunch. A BUNCH! I shared with quite a few friends and they did the same thing. Well, little did we know that we were buying fake 925 .925 92.5 sterling silver!!! Oh yes. Ebay is consumed with sellers from Asian countries, China being one of the main ones, who are flooding ebay with fake 925 .925 92.5 sterling silver jewelry!!!!! To make matters worse, their fake 925 .925 92.5 sterling silver is engraved with 925 on it!!! I had one seller tell me it was sterling because it has 925 on it. I said oh hell not it isn't. He was referring to one of 5 gorgeous rhinestone starfish necklaces that I bought from him. They are drop dead gorgeous and look just like the real deal. I wore it for one week without taking it off and by the seventh day, I took it off to wear another necklace and I noticed the snake chain had tarnished. I know sterling silver can tarnish and be cleaned up but this is not the same thing. It had permanently tarnished because the thin sterling silver coating over the cheap crappy metal (alloy) had worn off.
It is not like ebay is not aware of what is going on. I called them and blasted them about this unethical horrific situation. The guy I spoke with told me they know because they have had complaints before!!! Well smack me and call me fanny. Why, oh why, then are these people still on ebay selling fake jewelry to people. Can you imagine how people are going to feel when they give these good looking pieces of jewelry to loved ones for special occasions and tell them how they are sterling silver and then in six months or less, they will be told how they tarnished? OMG this is unreal.
I am blaming ebay. They could better control this situation and do something about it but my opinion is: they are making far too much money off these Chinese sellers so they are looking the other way. I no longer have any respect or trust for ebay. I will buy elsewhere and will never buy sterling silver from ebay again. Shame on you ebay. I have found a product online that I can purchase but it is expensive to coat my fake 925 .925 92.5 sterling silver with and it will last longer. I am thoroughly disgusted!! Let me add the saddest part. Most of these sellers have excellent feedback. Why? Because their jewelry looks so real, when you get it, you rush and leave them feedback. By the time your jewelry tarnishes, it is probably to late for a refund and you have already left great feedback!