What is 925 Sterling Silver, and How Do You Recognize It?

A woman wearing a gorgeous 925 sterling silver necklace.

High-quality 925 sterling silver jewelry is a beloved component of many people’s fashion styles, and there’s little wonder as to why given its versatility and elegance. But did you know that other, lower-quality varieties of silver are sometimes passed off as sterling silver to unsuspecting jewelry lovers? To prevent yourself from accidentally purchasing one of these pieces, please continue reading to learn about the essential indicators you need to be on the lookout for. But if you happen to be on the hunt for a selection of gorgeous, handcrafted artisan rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings that are sure to be of only the highest quality, please consider checking out the selection proudly presented by LaCkore Couture.

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A Trick of The Jewelry Trade You Need to Watch Out For

Sadly, a wide selection of unscrupulous retailers in the market like to take advantage of a consumer’s lack of knowledge regarding the cost and quality of genuine sterling silver to sell them cheaper silver or silver-plated goods for total market price. To protect yourself from these jewelry scammers, you need to fully understand the ways to check for 925 sterling silver authenticity as well as the warning signs that can indicate a piece of poor-quality jewelry.

How to Ensure Your Jewelry is Genuine 925 Sterling Silver

A small selection of 925 sterling silver jewelry laid out on gray fabric.

There are a few quick methods people can use to ensure that the jewelry they are looking at in a shop is genuine sterling silver. The next time you’re thinking of buying a new piece of sterling silver jewelry, consider trying out a few of the following tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

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Check For Markings

The first thing people should check for if they suspect that a piece of sterling silver jewelry may not be authentic is the 925 sterling silver stamp. All genuine sterling silver jewelry should be marked with one of these stamps, which can be written as “.925,” “92.5,” or “925” to indicate the purity of the silver. Some sterling silver may also be stamped with the symbol “ss.” However, it’s important to note that some genuine products may not have a stamp because the United States does not require this stamp by law as many European countries do. It’s still a generally good indication that you should look for jewelry elsewhere, though, as many companies still standardize the use of these stamp markings on their products.

Check for Tarnish

Because real sterling silver is made with a mix of copper to increase its hardness and durability, it is much more prone to tarnish. So, if you see a bit of tarnish on the piece you’re looking to buy (such as small black marks or dull patches), that’s actually a good sign that the piece is real. To be extra sure, you can wipe the tarnished spots with a soft white cloth. If some of the residues remain on the fabric, you’re probably looking at genuine sterling silver.

Check the Price

Genuine sterling silver doesn’t come cheap, so the price can be a clear indication of whether or not you’re looking at a piece of authentic sterling silver jewelry. Remember, you get what you pay for, so try to steer clear of cheaper, knockoff jewelry and only buy from reliable retailers selling their products at a price that makes sense for what you’re buying.

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How Does it Sound?

Genuine sterling silver should produce a high-pitched ringing sound, similar to that of a bell when it is gently tapped with someone’s finger or a coin. Just make sure you don’t damage the product when running this test. Whether it’s genuine sterling silver or not, you break it or damage it; you’re going to be paying for it.

How Does it Smell?

As strange as this test may sound, genuine sterling silver jewelry shouldn’t produce any smell. So, take a whiff of a new piece you’re thinking about buying. If it has a distinct metallic smell, you’ll know that it likely contains a very high concentration of copper or another type of alloy, and it may be best looking for jewelry somewhere else. 

Try a Quick Magnet Test

Sterling silver will have little to no attraction to magnetic materials, so placing a suspected piece of fake sterling silver jewelry next to a magnet can be a great way to confirm or disprove your jewelry scam concerns. If the magnet creates a moderate to strong attraction with the jewelry, you’ll know it’s time to walk away because the jewelry is fake. This test can also be instrumental in helping people to identify real gold too. So consider keeping a few small magnets on hand the next time you decide to go jewelry shopping for any new pieces.

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Is Sterling Silver the Same as Silver Plated?

As you know, a sterling silver ring (or necklace or bracelet) will contain the same metal mixture throughout the entire piece. On the other hand, a silver-plated piece includes a thin layer of silver over a base of another metal. Plated rings usually contain a base metal of copper or brass. A light coating of silver is applied over the base metal, giving it a solid silver appearance from the outside. 

Those plated rings are less expensive because the base metal is often a cheap material. While there are no enforced standards about the minimally acceptable thickness of plated silver, it may look great when you purchase it. However, that thin layer will deteriorate over the next few days, weeks, and months. While not all plated rings are bad, their quality can vary. Knowing the difference between a sterling silver ring and a silver-plated one can save you from the frustration of seeing your favorite metal piece slowly fade away. 

Can Sterling Silver Tarnish?

Unfortunately, sterling silver is somewhat susceptible to tarnishing. Why? Copper is often used in these jewelry pieces, leading to oxidation. Tarnish happens when the metal reacts to oxygen, leaving you with a discolored and darkened surface. 

While tarnish can degrade the piece's appearance, you can easily remove it using a special process or polish. Not all sterling silver jewelry pieces will tarnish. Some 925 pieces had a chemical coating on the surface of the piece. With that, it will prevent tarnish from accumulating on the surface.

However, not all 925 rings will have that coating. As you regularly wear the piece, like a ring, the natural oils from your skin can actually protect the sterling silver. That might be why pieces that sit in a jewelry box can tarnish without you wearing them. If you plan to store your sterling silver for the long term, you might want to keep them in small plastic bags without excess air. There are some anti-tarnish products and other solutions that you can add to the jewelry box. All of them will work to keep that tarnish at bay. 

Remember that tarnish can occur if you live in a high humidity climate. Those living in a dry environment will not have to take special precautions as those living in a hot and humid area. Humidity seems to cause the sterling silver to tarnish more quickly

Keep in mind that all silver is susceptible to tarnish, even those pieces listed as fine silver (99.99% silver). Even pure silver is not entirely 100% pure. When the jewelry contains 0.01% of trace amounts of copper and other materials in the piece, it can tarnish. Removing those trace amounts is often too expensive and not practical. So even those more costly fine silver pieces will have some type of other metal in the mixture, causing them to react and oxidize. Don't be afraid of tarnish. You can always clean the sterling pieces to restore their luster and beauty.

The Final Thoughts on Recognizing 925 Sterling Silver 

Someone displaying two 925 sterling silver pendant necklaces around their neck.

If you’ve read this much of the article, then you now understand all you need to know to help ensure that you won’t fall for any of the fake sterling silver jewelry scams you may encounter. Remember to carefully consider each new piece of jewelry and check it over with a close eye to ensure you’re getting what you’re looking for. No matter how beautiful a piece of supposed sterling silver jewelry looks or what kind of bargain price it may be sold at, there’s always a chance someone is trying to pull a fast one on you. So watch out for yourself and your hard-earned money to ensure that you’re only purchasing the kind of top-quality jewelry you want in your collection.

Are you on the hunt for a stellar new source of gorgeous, artisan-crafted jewelry to help you express your inner essence? Take a look at the massive range of top-quality products proudly presented by LaCkore Couture today to learn more about what each of their pieces can do for your sense of style.