Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What is a Silver Standard

Sterling – Most Countries, including the UK and the US define Sterling Silver as an alloy containing at least 92.5% pure silver.

The other silver standard metal in the alloy is copper which strengthens the metal so it can be worked into useful and decorative items. Pure silver is too soft so an alloy is neccassary for fabrication.

The Sterling standard began in the UK in the 1300’s and has been the standard in Great Britain and elsewhere has been 92.5% (925) fineness since that time.

The numbers 925, 0.925 or 925/1000 will be found stamped in the item. The number only represents sterling when the countries official hallmark of origin is also present. The number on its own does not guarantee the metal is sterling.

Solid Silver
Like Sterling, Solid Silver contains 92.5% of pure silver and an alloy. It is illegal in the U.S. to represent any product by this name that is not Sterling Silver.

Coin Silver
This is an alloy with a Millesimal fineness of 90% or 900 purity. It gets its name from American Silversmiths active in the 18th and 19th Century. These silversmiths would melt down silver coins to create new silver ware items. It is illegal in the US to sell items with less than 90% purity as coin silver.

Continental Sterling
This means European Silver with a purity of less than 92.5% but the official hallmark and assay mark are also present to authenticate the metal. The same type of term applies to Russian, German and French Sterling but again with their official hallmarks and assay marks.

See More:
What are Official Silver Standards?
What are Loth Numbers?
What are Zolotnik Numbers?