What Does 925 Mean When Printed on Gold Jewelry? Fine jewelry is expensive, and you don’t want to end up spending a lot of money on a piece of jewelry that turns out to be jewelry made of lower-quality materials or different metal than you thought it would be made of.
Unfortunately, many people end up with jewelry that is different from what they expected or had in mind, and it’s painful to note that the disappointed individuals made the purchase they now regret because they thought the marking or name on the jewelry meant something different. I
n this article, we take a look at one of the confusing jewelry descriptions around and what it means. We are talking about the 925 stamp on gold jewelry, what it means, and why it’s used on gold jewelry. So, let’s get into it.
What Does 925 Mean When Printed on Gold Jewelry?
925 is the authenticity stamp that denotes the finest quality sterling silver.
It is a hallmark that describes the quality of sterling silver. 925 sterling silver jewelry is made of 92.5% silver, and 7.5% other metals like nickel or copper, and such jewelry is simply referred to as sterling silver.
Sometimes, however, the 925 sterling silver hallmark will be printed on your gold jewelry.
The use of this hallmark on jewelry made of gold brings about a lot of confusion, but we intend to clear the air here.
But before we start, we need to reiterate the fact that genuine sterling silver is only identified by the 925 hallmarks that will be printed somewhere on that piece of jewelry, for example, on the clasp or in other hidden parts of the jewelry.
So, why incorporate this mark on jewelry that’s not genuine sterling silver?
Enter Gold 925
When you see gold jewelry with the 925 hallmarks, it means that the jewelry is a gold-plated piece of jewelry and not solid gold jewelry. This hallmark is also there to denote the percentage purity of the base metal rather than the gold plating. Often, the base metal in question is sterling silver.
As a result of the gold-plating on these kinds of jewelry, the gold plating and the resultant metal/ jewelry is referred to as gold vermeil. Gold vermeil is the most common type of gold used in making attractive pieces of costume jewelry on the market.
So, if you see 925 gold, you should know that the item isn’t made of 92.5% gold or 925/1000 parts gold. The hallmark only tells you that the gold jewelry is plated with gold and has a base/ core made of other metals, often sterling silver.
Note that the classification of gold is based on karatage, and the most common karat numbers used for gold include 10k, 12k, 14k, and 18k. The karatage shows the percentage of purity of gold. The maximum or purest gold is 24k gold, and 18k gold, for example, is 18 parts out of 24 parts pure gold.
What is gold vermeil?
Gold vermeils refer to the jewelry that features a silver/ sterling silver base but plated with gold. Gold vermeil jewelry is also known as gilded silver.
The other thing you need to know about the gold vermeil jewelry is that all gold vermeil jewelry is crafted out of skin-safe and nickel-free sterling silver that is coated in a rather thick layer of gold. The gold layer is often about 2.5 microns and made specifically of 10k gold. Gold vermeil is made through electroplating or electrolysis.
Why 925 plated with gold?
As mentioned above, the 925 hallmark on the gold metal refers to the sterling silver base on this gold-plated jewelry.
The reason for the existence of 925 plated gold is that such jewelry is what makes up the bulk of costume jewelry. Such jewelry looks almost as good as the real thing, but it’s sold at a low price. And because most people cannot afford the most expensive jewelry like solid 14k or 18k gold jewelry, the vermeil presents as a better alternative.
The gold vermeil is not very cheap, though, and it gives the wearer an illusion or sense of quality. Also, the sterling silver base, which is nickel-free, enhances its value and makes a good option for individuals looking for some of the best but affordable options of gold jewelry.
And unlike gold-plated jewelry, the gold layer on gold vermeil is thicker and lasts longer.
Note that if the gold for plating on 925 gold was made of 929 gold, that would translate to the best quality and the most expensive gold, 22k, and the quoted price would make you rethink your purchase, especially if you were shopping on a budget.
Different marks between Gold and Silver
The primary difference between these precious metals, besides their appearance and chemical properties, lies in how they are marked. You can tell these two metals apart by looking out for the following authenticity marks.
Gold – you can tell that you are dealing with actual gold if the piece in question has a ‘k’ stamp, which stands for karats. The most common stamps on gold jewelry determine the percentage purity of gold in the jewelry. They include 14k gold, which, by mass, equals 58.33%-62.50% gold; 18k, which is between 75% – 79.2% gold, 22k that’s 91.6%-95.8% gold, 23k gold, which is up to 99.95% gold, and lastly 24k gold, which is 99.99% gold by mass.
Silver – silver is identified by the 3-digit stamp of authenticity. The most common form of silver is 925 silver, which is 92.5% or 925 parts/1000 silver and 75 parts copper. The other variations of silver include 999 silver or fine gold that’s often used for silver bullions, 958 silver or Britannia silver and a sterling silver subset, 950 silver that is the French 1st (1949) standard, the common 925 silver described above as the one with silver and copper, and lastly, 900 silver used in silver coins in the US between 1892 and 1964.
That said, here are some of the variations to the 925 (sterling silver)
While the 925 stamp is rather common as a sterling silver identifier, sterling silver jewelry doesn’t always come with the 925 hallmarks, and some of the marks you might see include STERLING, STER, STG, and in other cases, it will be printed, Sterling Silver. All these stamps represent the same thing, 925 silver.
But there are cases where the sterling silver has a 925 EP stamp. When you see this stamp, it means that the piece is made of sterling silver with an ultra-thin gold coat that’s been electroplated on to it. This 925 EP often stands for gold vermeil.
On the other hand, if the gold piece of jewelry comes with a 925 Italy stamp, it means that the piece is made of silver and plated with gold that’s specifically made in Italy.
What Is Gold 925?
As mentioned above, Gold 925 refers to silver jewelry plated in gold. The 925 mark in this type of jewelry denotes the percentage purity of silver that forms the base metal rather than the thin layer of plated gold.
It can be confusing to find 925 gold jewelry when you’ve always known that 925 is the hallmark for sterling silver.
But as explained above, the use of the 925 stamps is there to show the level of purity of the silver base in the gold-plated sterling silver piece of jewelry.
So, should you buy 925 gold? Yes. There really is nothing wrong with 925 gold jewelry, it is a gold-vermeil, and given the good quality of the silver base metal and the 2.5micron gold layer, the jewelry is one of the best costume jewelry on the market.
Just remember that the 925 gold stamp has to do with the base metal for the costume jewelry and nothing to do with the percentage or quality of gold. For more fashion jewelry topics, please read here or here.