If you are considering a ring made of the precious metals, silver or gold, you need to be familiar with the standard features and identifiers of these metals. Otherwise, you will end up with a fake, at a price.
Today, we look at one of these identifiers or hallmarks – 925.
If you are buying a sterling silver ring, one of the first things that the internet will ask you to check for is the 925 mark of quality. But do you really know what that mark means or the significance it carries?
For starters, sterling silver is not pure silver as you might have been made to believe. The truth is that there is no jewelry made of pure silver since pure silver is too soft to be molded into jewelry. Therefore, jewelers add other metals to pure silver to make the precious metal harder and durable, and to create the intricate rings you are now looking at. Sterling silver is a silver alloy of silver and copper (or nickel or brass in other cases). The composition of sterling silver comprises of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. This composition is essential in the manufacture of sterling silver rings, and it’s the reason for the 925 hallmarks.
If you are looking at a silver ring with a 925 engraving, it means that the ring contains 925 parts of pure silver out of 1000 parts (whole). It’s also important to keep in mind that pure silver is not really pure silver since it contains a few impurities like copper. Pure silver is often 99.9% silver.
Why is the 925 Hallmark important?
While sterling silver is cheaper than gold and other precious metals, there are many sterling silver imitations and fakes on the market today. In most cases, you will come across sterling silver that’s marketed as the real deal, but it then turns out that you were dealing with the fake with less than ideal silver content. Therefore, identification of the sterling silver using the 925 hallmarks is crucial.
How much is 925 sterling silver worth?
You can only determine the actual worth of a sterling silver piece by checking its purity, determining its weight, and then multiplying these values with the current market value of sterling silver, per ounce.
For purity, there are several notable ways of determining whether that ring is made of genuine sterling silver or not.
First, you should consider looking for the hallmark or its identification stamp. A genuine sterling silver piece is engraved with an authentication mark as 925, .925, or 92.5. These are the standard markers of identification.
But sometimes, these are not the only identification markers which is why you need to dig deeper and even run some simple tests.
These tests include:
- Rub that ring with a piece of soft, white cloth. If it leaves black marks on that cloth, then it means that you are dealing with sterling silver. Sterling silver tarnishes thanks to its exposure to air and reaction with oxygen which leave behind the black marks.
- Run the nitric acid test. If you have to run this test, get a professional to do the test because nitric acid is dangerous, and then ask them to pour a drop of the acid on an inconspicuous surface. If the piece is genuine, there will be no effect, or you will have a creamish-white residue. Any other colors from the reaction indicate impurities and non-sterling silver materials.
Once you’ve run the purity test, the jeweler will go ahead to value the piece based on the purity results, the weight of the piece, and the current market value of the piece.
The 925-hallmark stamp is not applicable to sterling silver alone. Gold is also marked for purity using the 925 stamps of authenticity. The use of this mark stems from the fact that gold is one of rarest precious metals mined, which means that it’s valued highly.
Understanding the importance of the 925 stamps is important because its use isn’t limited to sterling silver. In gold, it has a slightly different meaning.
What does 925 gold mean?
Like sterling silver, the 925 stamp is the unit that denotes the quality and also the authenticity of a piece of metal. However, it has a different meaning where gold is involved, and it doesn’t mean that the ring you are looking at is made of 92.5% gold.
In gold rings, the 925 mark means that the ring’s actual or base metal is sterling silver that’s coated/ plated with gold. Therefore, the next time you see a 925 mark on a piece that looks genuinely gold, you know that it means that you are buying a gold-plated sterling silver ring. The gold-plated sterling silver piece of jewelry is also called gold vermeil. This technique is common with costume jewelry.
In the US markets, jewelry qualifies as gold vermeil is only if the gold plate is a 10K gold or less. Gold vermeil is made of about 42% gold whose thickness should not be less than 2.5 microns.
Since the 925 stamp is not the ideal grading for gold’s purity, you should avoid such pieces when you are looking for a genuine sterling silver piece.
It’s also important to know that silver’s rating is based on the grading system, while the rating of gold is based on gold’s purity or karatage.
With this in mind, if you are shopping for a gold ring, you should avoid all gold rings with the 925 stamp. These pieces are not worth much on the market, given the low-karat level.
For genuine gold jewelry, check the karat markings (in parts/thousand). For example, 24K is 999, 22K is 917, 18K is 750, and 10K is 417.
Note, however, that most gold pieces don’t use these marks, and if the marks are absent, you can always check other markers of gold purity like HE, DEP, HGP, RGP, or GP – these are common markings on the gold-plated jewelry.
How much is 925 Gold Worth?
While there exist many gorgeous pieces of 925 gold rings and jewelry out there, and with the rising popularity of gold vermeil jewelry, it’s important to be aware of the actual value of the jewelry.
Regarding value, 925 gold isn’t solid gold, but it’s still valuable since these pieces are made of high-quality sterling silver plated with relatively good-quality gold.
So, if you are looking for good quality gold-plated sterling silver rings, look for 925 jewelry (gold).
925 gold is cheaper than rings made of solid gold, and these pieces also boasts a beautiful and classic gold luster. At the end of the day, however, your decision is determined by your preference. If you are looking at value and timelessness in costume jewelry, you cannot go wrong with a sterling silver piece coated with gold/ gold vermeil, or 925 gold.
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