If you've ever taken a hard look at the jewelry you or a friend have been wearing, you might have noticed a stamp that reads "925" possibly with a country name afterward. What does a 925 stamp mean when it comes to jewelry? Should it be present on absolutely any piece of jewelry that you own? We're going to unveil all the mysteries when it comes to jewelry bearing a 925 stamp.
Where Do I Find It?
If you've got the 925 indent on a piece of jewelry it will generally be found on the side that touched your body. Check the inside of your rings or the back of your favorite silver pendant and see if you can locate it. You might not have noticed it before, but it's relatively obvious to spot once you're actually searching for it.
What Does It Mean?
A piece of jewelry bearing a 925 engraving indicates that the item is 92.5% pure silver. The remaining 7.5% is made up of an alloy, usually copper. This is the standard percentage needed in order to call something sterling silver. Some people might also refer to it as 925 silver. Silver is the only metal that should be stamped 925.
But My Gold Ring Says 925 On It...
If you come across a piece of gold with a 925 stamp, it almost certainly isn't pure gold. Real gold will be stamped with karats. The karats are what is needed to determine how pure a gold piece is, and it never comes in a 92.5% ratio. These are the standard accepted percentages of gold for each karat.
24K = 999 / 99.9%
22K = 917 / 91.7%
20K = 833 / 83.3%
18K = 750 / 75%
14K = 583 / 58.3%
10K = 417 / 41.7%
What does that mean for your gold ring bearing a 925 indentation? Simply put, it is a gold-plated silver ring. The minimum amount of gold required for plating is 2.5 microns thick, which is to say... Not very much gold at all. That doesn't make it any less gorgeous, but definitely don't pay karat prices for a 925 ring or necklace.
How Can I Ensure My Sterling Silver Is 92.5%?
It's a sad fact of life that wherever there is money to be made there are bound to be counterfeiters out to make some quick cash. Even if something is stamped 925, that is not enough insurance for the size of investment you are about to make. Keep yourself safe and put your mind at ease when buying sterling silver by running a one or even all of these 4 easy and quick silver tests.
This might seem strange, but you can be as discrete as you like about it. Pretend to inspect the piece closely and give it a quick sniff. 925 silver doesn't have an odor. If you catch a whiff of something it means that the copper content is too high and you're looking at a fake piece of silver.
White Glove Test
Run a white cloth over the supposed silver and see what appears. There should be some light black marks on the cloth afterward. Real silver will oxidize and tarnish when exposed to the open air, so if you aren't seeing anything in the cloth you might be looking at a fake.
Silver isn't magnetic. If the magnet manages to attract your chosen jewelry then it's time to kindly walk away. This test isn't fool-proof of course, there are a bevy of metals out there that aren't magnetic such as the often-used copper. This is why it's important to employ a variety of tests.
Nitric Acid Science
Do I expect you to walk into a jewelry store with a vial of nitric acid in your pocket? No. Terrible idea. The MSDS for nitric acid is a laundry list that includes risk of chemical burns, pulmonary edema (that's your lungs filling with fluid), permanent cornea damage if it ends up in your eye, and even death. This is only here because it is by far the most reliable test, but unless you have tons of experience handling lethal chemicals you need to not play around with this stuff. I'm serious. I'll say it again, terrible idea.
Now, if despite all prior warning you decide that this is the one and only way that you can possibly get a definitive answer about the silver you're looking at then ask the jeweler if you are permitted to run this silver purity test. Real silver won't be damaged, but substitutions can sometimes be destroyed beyond repair.
If the jeweler submits, then slowly and carefully place a single drop of nitric acid on the surface of the jewelry. Silver will react with the nitric acid and turn it to a pale milky color, most other imitations will end up turning the acid green. I hope you'll never use this information. If you really need to know for sure, maybe submit it to a lab instead of endangering the lives of those around you.
Keeping 925 Silver Looking Great
Any silver can be finicky, and if it has a 925 stamp it's certainly no exception to the rule. If you're looking to battle tarnish, Simple Shine has a wide range of products that are up to the task. Beat tarnish to the punch before it has a chance to take hold with our anti tarnish cloth storage bags, or anti tarnish plastic storage bags! If the oxidization is already taking place it's a relatively simple matter to get that shine back provided that you have the right tools. Our complete silver cleaning kit will set that precious metal back to its natural shiny state.