Pure silver is extremely malleable and can be easily damaged. It also softens over time even at room temperature. To avoid these problems and increase the life-span of your silver jewellery other metals are added to the pure silver - creating alloys which protect the silver jewellery from scratching and damage.925 sterling silver jewellery is actually a combination of 92.5% silver and usually 7.5% copper. The beneficial properties gained by adding copper have made 925 sterling silver extremely popular with a host of silver craftsmen.
The inclusion of copper, or occasionally a similar copper-like substitute, helps to enhance your silver jewellery and does not in any way detract from its quality. Nearly all 925 sterling silver jewellery we sell is hallmarked with a 925 stamp. The hallmark is an assurance to you that all of our silver is of the highest quality. Please note that some items are excluded from the legal requirements to hallmark and therefore these items may not be hallmarked.
Why is 925 Silver Jewellery Hallmarked?
We are often asked why silver jewellery has hallmarks on it. In the UK the most common hallmark is a 925 stamp. In other countries you may see hallmarks with the words 'silver' or 'quality silver' in capital letters. Although the types of hallmarking used internationally vary, the principle behind the hallmarking system for silver jewellery remains the same.
The hallmarking system was designed to resolve the problems of dishonest traders and to address the drop in consumer's confidence in 925 silver. A third party - such as the current main Assay Offices of London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh in the UK - would analyse and stamp each item of 925 jewellery. As this third party carried out all chemical analysis themselves, and then issued the hallmark stamp, all items stamped with the 925 hallmark were guaranteed to conformed to the required legal standard. Furthermore, heavy fines and criminal sanctions were introduced to ensure public trust in the hallmarking scheme.
Why Do We Call Silver Jewelery 'Sterling' Silver?
We receive several enquiries each month, generally from existing customers, asking about the origins of the word 'sterling'. I suppose most of these people have had a quick look over our small library of interesting silver jewellery facts but missed our brief article on the topic.
Sterling or sterlings was the abbreviation for this commonly used tender - and to this day the word remains in use all over the world. As a brief side note of some interest easterlings were valued purely by their weight but over time monarchs debased this silver currency by adding additional alloys and removing a small amount of silver. This resulted in devalued coins as although their weight remained unchanged, the total level of silver in the coins was reduced.
Many historians suspect this was one of the key reasons for rapid inflation rates under the rule of kings Henry VII and Henry VIII.