If you are considering a ring made of the precious metals, silver or gold, you need to be familiar with the standard features and identifiers of these metals. Otherwise, you will end up with a fake, at a price.
Today, we look at one of these identifiers or hallmarks – 925.
If you are buying a sterling silver ring, one of the first things that the internet will ask you to check for is the 925 mark of quality. But do you really know what that mark means or the significance it carries?
For starters, sterling silver is not pure silver as you might have been made to believe. The truth is that there is no jewelry made of pure silver since pure silver is too soft to be molded into jewelry. Therefore, jewelers add other metals to pure silver to make the precious metal harder and durable, and to create the intricate rings you are now looking at. Sterling silver is a silver alloy of silver and copper (or nickel or brass in other cases). The composition of sterling silver comprises of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. This composition is essential in the manufacture of sterling silver rings, and it’s the reason for the 925 hallmarks.
If you are looking at a silver ring with a 925 engraving, it means that the ring contains 925 parts of pure silver out of 1000 parts (whole). It’s also important to keep in mind that pure silver is not really pure silver since it contains a few impurities like copper. Pure silver is often 99.9% silver.
Why is the 925 Hallmark important?
While sterling silver is cheaper than gold and other precious metals, there are many sterling silver imitations and fakes on the market today. In most cases, you will come across sterling silver that’s marketed as the real deal, but it then turns out that you were dealing with the fake with less than ideal silver content. Therefore, identification of the sterling silver using the 925 hallmarks is crucial.
How much is 925 sterling silver worth?
You can only determine the actual worth of a sterling silver piece by checking its purity, determining its weight, and then multiplying these values with the current market value of sterling silver, per ounce.
For purity, there are several notable ways of determining whether that ring is made of genuine sterling silver or not.
First, you should consider looking for the hallmark or its identification stamp. A genuine sterling silver piece is engraved with an authentication mark as 925, .925, or 92.5. These are the standard markers of identification.
But sometimes, these are not the only identification markers which is why you need to dig deeper and even run some simple tests.
These tests include:
Rub that ring with a piece of soft, white cloth. If it leaves black marks on that cloth, then it means that you are dealing with sterling silver. Sterling silver tarnishes thanks to its exposure to air and reaction with oxygen which leave behind the black marks.
Run the nitric acid test. If you have to run this test, get a professional to do the test because nitric acid is dangerous, and then ask them to pour a drop of the acid on an inconspicuous surface. If the piece is genuine, there will be no effect, or you will have a creamish-white residue. Any other colors from the reaction indicate impurities and non-sterling silver materials.
Once you’ve run the purity test, the jeweler will go ahead to value the piece based on the purity results, the weight of the piece, and the current market value of the piece.