S925 Marked Jewelry: What Does it Really Mean?

S925 marking on jewelry means that the jewelry is made of 92.5% silver, also known as sterling silver. Jewelers usually place the marking in a remote part of a jewelry piece to assure customers of the quality of the silver they’re buying.


History of S925 on Jewelry

The practice of hallmarking jewelry originated in France in the 13th century and was picked up in England in the 14th century. However, the most relevant legislation to 21st-century hallmarking is The Hallmarking Act of 1973. This Act has been amended several times to reflect changes in the fine jewelry market.

The 1998 Amendment

One significant amendment came in 1998 when amongst other things, standards were to be expressed as parts per thousand (millesimal). No longer were metals marked in karats or percentages; so 92.5% silver became 925 and 18-karat gold as 750.

The United Kingdom is one of few countries where assay offices strictly monitor and carry out hallmarking. In America, jewelers have no obligation to hallmark jewelry; many collectors use unregulated maker’s marks as assurance.

Jewelers worldwide soon accepted the millesimal method of marking silver and put 925 or S925 on sterling silver pieces. This practice is used even in places that don’t use any form of hallmarking, and 925 silver is universally synonymous with sterling silver.

Is S925 Sterling Silver Real?

S925 ring

Yes, the S925 sterling silver is real. Some people might doubt the authenticity of sterling silver since it isn’t pure silver. However, that isn’t something to worry about since jewelers constantly mix metals; for example, gold is regularly mixed with other metals. Some reasons why jewelers mix silver with other metals are explained below:

1. To Make Silver Harder

The primary reason silver is mixed with other metals is that pure silver is very soft. The softness of silver makes it very difficult for jewelers to work with, and pieces made with 100 percent silver would easily get disfigured with use.

2. To Make Thinner Pieces

The softness of silver restricts the types of designs jewelers can make with the metal. Pure silver jewelry has to reach certain levels of thickness to hold up, which isn’t the case with sterling silver. Some of the wonderful sterling silver designs you wear won’t be possible with pure silver.

3. To Reduce Cost

Silver is the least expensive fine jewelry (the others being gold, platinum, and palladium). However, there are cheaper metals like copper, and using them as alloys for silver reduces the jewelry price.

S925 vs S999 Silver

Jewelers mostly use two types of silver in the jewelry market– S925 and S999 silver. S925 is sterling silver, while S999 is fine silver, consisting of 99.9 percent silver and 0.1 percent of a metal alloy. Although the difference in the silver quantity doesn’t seem much, it causes both metals to have slightly different qualities.

1. S999 Silver Tarnishes Slower

All types of silver jewelry will tarnish when you don’t take proper care of them. S925 is more prone to tarnish than S999 because it contains more copper, a metal that tarnishes quickly. Sometimes S925 jewelry might leave green marks on your skin because of tarnished copper in the metal.

2. S999 Feels Softer

Soft-textured jewelry can be frustrating for jewelers to work with, but it feels good to wear on the skin. It’s easier to wear S999 jewelry for longer hours than S925 because of how comfortable it feels. Although S925 silver is soft, it’s not as soft as S999.

3. S925 is More Affordable

S999 jewelry is uneconomical to make because few jewelers can work with pure silver. Also, the cheaper metal in S925 jewelry makes it more affordable.

4. S925 Might Contain Allergens

Some S925 jewelry might contain allergens, most commonly nickel. Some people do not react well when nickel comes in contact with their skin, and it causes them to itch seriously. Because S999 is a purer form of silver, any allergens it contains would be in insignificant quantities.

How Do I Know if my S925 is Real?

Outside of the United Kingdom, there are no regulations on placing S925 markings on jewelry. Mischievous jewelers can deceptively mark any white metal jewelry as sterling silver for unsuspecting customers to buy. You must know how to differentiate real S925 from fake.

There are several ways to test if your S925 jewelry is real such as the vinegar test. However, the most accurate and stress-free way is via an XRF analyzer. The machine can test if the metal is truly silver and the proportions of other metals it has been alloyed with.

An XRF analyzer might be expensive to buy at home, so you can take your jewelry to a trusted jeweler that has one and ask to test it. Some jewelers offer testing as a complimentary service, while others would charge you a very small fee for it.

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