925 Sterling Silver jewelry is actually a combination of 92.5% silver and usually 7.5% copper. Sometimes the craftsman replaces copper with another material, or even a combination of materials. Over the last decade lower copper prices and an abundance of copper due to improved refining techniques have made it the first choice of many designers and jewelers. A great deal of silver jewelery available today is called 925 silver. Pure silver is extremely malleable and therefore can easily damage. It also softens over time, even at room temperature. Obviously, in this state silver is useless for jewelery purposes. To avoid the problems of malleability and softening, and thus to increase the life-span of your silver jewelery, other metals are added to the pure silver. The result of this blending process with alloys is a combined silver and alloy substance which is far more resistant to scratching and damage.
925 Silver is therefore a combination of mostly pure silver and a lower percentage of infused alloy metal. The addition of copper, or occasionally a similar copper-like substitute, helps to enhance silver jewelery and does not detract from its quality. In many countries the 925 hallmark is an assurance that the silver is of the highest quality. There are many other standards for Silver Jewelery, in trend in different countries.
The beneficial properties gained by adding the copper to the pure silver have made the resulting product extremely popular with a host of silver craftsmen.
Earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants and all other forms of jewelery can be carefully designed with the assurance that each intricate bend and turn will remain firmly in place.
Fine Silver is 99.9% silver or better. This grade of silver is used to make bullion bars for international commodities trading. In the modern world Fine Silver is understood to be too soft for general use.
Britannia Silver is purer than sterling, at least 95.84% silver and up to 4.16% copper. Its marks were Britannia and a lion's head in profile.
Mexican Silver is also purer than sterling, usually 95% Silver and 5% Copper. Mexico is the only country currently using silver in its circulating coinage, but these coins are not minted from 95% "Mexican" Silver. Much of the currently produced silver jewelery and other decorative silver objects made in Mexico at the present time are made according to the Sterling, i.e. 92.5% silver, standard, and are marked "Sterling".
Coin Silver is most commonly 90% silver and 10% copper as dictated by United States FTC guidelines. "Coin Silver" is said to have acquired its name because much of it was made from melting down silver coins, which are generally of the 90% standard. So Coin silver is usually lower in silver content than sterling. This does allow for some variation in the silver content, depending on which coinage was used to create the silver stock.
German Silver(not to be confused with nickel silver, which is also referred to by this same term) are several silver standards used in Germany. However, the most common standard for silverware and decorative silver objects is the 800 standard (80% pure silver). Hence, when the term German silver is used, it is usually referred to as the 800 standard. Another silver standard in use is the 900 standard. German silver objects are usually marked with an "800" or "900" to show the standard to which they are made. The UK Assay offices also recognize the 80% silver content
Silver Standard Marks
A - Sterling .925
B - Britannia .958, used exclusively 1697 - 1720, optional afterward.
C - Sterling .925 for Glasgow
D - Sterling .925 for Edinburgh
E - Sterling .925 for Dublin