925 silver or sterling silver is hands down the most popular form of silver in the market, and for a good reason: it looks good and is even more durable than fine silver.
925 silver is real or genuine silver that has been alloyed with another metal to make it more durable and roadworthy. Read more to find out more about how elemental silver is made into sterling silver.
Is 925 Silver Real Silver?
As we have mentioned briefly in the previous section, 925 silver is the genuine article, because it contains far more silver than the alloyed metal. The most common metal used for strengthening elemental silver is copper, but other metals may also be used.
Additional metals that may have been added to sterling silver in minute quantities include silicon, boron, germanium, and zinc. These metals are added to prevent or reduce the incidence of tarnishing in sterling silver. Tarnishing is a type of corrosion that results in a black layer forming over the silver.
Because sterling silver contains more than ninety percent silver, the interactions between the silver and the air and elements surrounding the silver is accelerated, so the more silver content a piece of jewelry has, the more likely it is to tarnish.
Additional weaknesses in the purer material, such as porosity, are also addressed through selective alloying.
What about fine silver?
Fine silver is any silver setting or product that has 99.9% silver. Only the smallest possible quantity of additional metals are added to boost the durability of the silver somehow. Fine silver is virtually pure silver. Is fine silver more expensive than sterling silver? Yes, it is more costly. Is fine silver better than sterling silver? That answer to this big question is, “it depends on the use.”
If you are purchasing something that is meant to be displayed only and not handled or used, then it is fine to buy fine silver as it will only be viewed and not worn. Fine silver is softer than sterling silver and less durable for jewelry settings, especially when creating rings with added load (like gemstones).
What about plated silver?
Plated silver is the less ideal alternative to fine silver because it’s not wholly made of silver at all – it’s made of a different metal that has been layered with silver. Admittedly, plated jewelry and silverware are much cheaper compared to sterling silver and fine silver, but they can hardly be called silver because of the low silver content. Our recommendation is to invest in sterling silver or fine silver, whichever is available. Of course, sterling silver will always be more affordable than fine silver.
Are there other kinds of silverware and jewelry?
There are other types of silver products that do not fall into the plated, 925, or 999 categories. Some silver products are made with more 7.5% alloy metals.
This means there is less than 92.5% silver content in these silverware, so they do not satisfy the requirement for 925 silver or sterling silver. The ratios of the alloys differ from time to time, but you can be sure that it will be higher than 7.5%.
RELATED POST: Is Sterling Silver Good Quality?
How Much is 925 Sterling Silver Worth?
It is possible to estimate or compute the value of 925 sterling silver manually. Sterling silver is regularly used for manufacturing jewelry, cutlery, plates, ornamental items, and more.
Silver is a precious metal, much like gold and platinum, but is more affordable than these two metals. Silver provides the shininess of silver products, while the copper alloy is useful for making the silverware sturdier and more durable.
As of this writing, the average cost of silver is fifteen to twenty-three dollars per ounce, and the market-aligned value is seventeen dollars to twenty-one dollars per ounce.
Since this is a precious metal, the value of silver is computed by its actual weight and not by carat, unlike precious stones. To calculate the price of your sterling silver jewelry, you will need a weighing scale that can weigh up the smallest unit (milligrams or grams).
To compute the weight of the sterling silver in ounces, you need to divide the total weight by 28.3495. Take the quotient and multiply by .925, and the product will be the weight of the elemental silver.
Next, you have to take the current market markers for silver and multiply it by the weight in ounces that you now have. So if the value of silver is $17 and you have 1.432 ounces of it, the value of your sterling silver is $24.344.
Bonus: How Do You Know If It’s Real Silver or Not?
There are several methods to determine if the silver on hand is authentic or something else.
Check for the Stamp
Universal stamps of quality is used worldwide to indicate that silver product you purchased is either sterling silver or fine silver. Sterling silver will be punched with a tiny mark bearing the numbers “925,” while fine silver will have “999.”
Check for the Ringing Sound
Silver rings at a high-pitched level when struck with another metal. By tapping a coin or similar metal object against the silver, you should be able to hear the ringing for just over a second.
If you don’t hear anything despite repeated tapping, there’s something wrong, and the silver you’re holding might not have enough silver in it, or it may not be silver at all.
Check its Hardness
Silver is not a hard metal. We’ve explained this before: pure silver is so soft that you can deform it by only playing around with it with your hands. Push or press hard enough, and you’re going to damage your silverware.
With this in mind, you can test if you have at least sterling silver by trying to bend the item. If the thing is surprisingly soft when you apply stress on it, there is a big chance that you have genuine silver.
Check its Smell
Genuine sterling silver will not produce metallic odors, unlike other metals. Sniff the ring or earring and let your nose tell you the truth.