What Does a “925” Mark Mean When Stamped on a Silver Ring?

Many wonder.  What does a 925 mark mean when stamped on jewelry?

Like many jewelry markings, the 925 stamp is something which those outside of jeweler circles may find mystifying.

While the answer is simple, the history behind it is much more fascinating.

If you’re curious, then read on.  We will answer the question – what does a 925 mark mean when stamped on jewelry?  Then we’ll give you a breakdown of the history behind the 925 hallmark.

So, what does a 925 mark mean when stamped on jewelry?

The 925 stamp indicates that the piece of jewelry you’re holding has been created with sterling silver.

Sterling silver is an alloy that is made of 92.5% actual silver, with the rest of the metal made up of base metals like copper.

The reason behind this alloy is that it’s much harder than the 99.9% required for “fine” silver, which makes it better for practical objects. Jewelry can also benefit, particularly rings and bracelets which are more often exposed to getting dented or scratched than pendants or earrings.

The vast majority of sterling silver contains copper as the alloying material. That said, there are plenty of other additives that see use but still meet the sterling standard.

Still, in the bulk of cases, the 925 stamp indicates what you’re holding is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper by weight.  In order for a silver to be classified as sterling silver, it must meet at least a 92.5 purity, AKA 925. So, as you can see: 925 silver is the same thing as sterling silver.

Sterling silver allows for easy working, while still maintaining the majority of white shine that typifies the precious metal.

What Do Other Stamps Mean?

For the most part, it’s relatively easy to figure out the meaning of a mark.

While many of the European nations have their own stamps, numbers are becoming more common to indicate purity in the interest of international trade.

Usually, you can simply add a decimal beforehand in order to figure out what the numbered stamp means. A 999 stamp would, for instance, indicate that the metal was fine silver instead of sterling.

What Does a “925” Mark Mean When Stamped on a Silver Ring - Luxuria Diamonds
Chart 1: What does a 925 mark mean when stamped on jewelry?  This chart shows common marks for Silver, Gold, Platinum and Palladium.  Markings may differ, depending on which country the jewellery originates from.   For example in the USA gold is typically stamped 10K (or 10kt), 14K, 18K or 22K.  Gold plated jewelry is commonly stamped GP, GEP, RGP, HGE, or HGP. Silver may also be stamped STER, STR, SS or Sterling.

International standards on silver vary by a lot and many pieces are sold unmarked.

It’s a good idea to make sure that you know what you’re buying as silver from some areas is notoriously impure. German silver, for instance, is only 80% silver. Egyptian silver, perhaps the most notable example of near-fraud, is only required to be 60% silver.

Sometimes jewelry makers will seek to get around standards by not stamping metals in countries where it’s not required and will only indicate the origin of the metal instead of the actual purity.

Beware of silver jewelry that is not stamped! The absence of a unattested fineness mark means the metals are not identified. Frequently such product takes a cheap base metal and plates it with a thin layer of silver.

Luxuria Diamonds

The quickest way to identify sterling silver is to look for a mark or stamp, called the “fineness mark.” The fineness of a precious metal object (like silver) represents the weight of fine metal therein. Certified sterling silver will be stamped or marked with the word “sterling” or “925.”  

You may often come across alternative hallmarks such as “STG” “SS” or “STER”.  Though rarer these if probably used are also authentic notations of sterling silver.  Furthermore older British jewelry from the mid 19th century to the mid 1970’s may have a forward facing Lion Passat standard mark.  This also represents silver. See the above chart.

As a consumer, it’s your job to make sure that you’re getting what you pay for. The precious metal trade is rife with fraud to this day, but a savvy customer can get along without getting ripped off in the meantime.

925 Silver Testing

If there are no silver stamps on the jewelry then this may indicate the jewelry is plated.  It may be best to have such a piece tested.

Jewelers do such tests by applying acid to a very small piece of material taken from the jewelry.  Silver is a precious metal and its authenticity should be verified.

A Nitric Acid Test is typically used to check if silver is pure or plated. To do so, jewellers file a small part of the item in a discreet area where it cannot be seen. Jeweller then apply a few drops of nitric acid. If the area turns into creamy white, the silver is pure or sterling. If green, it is probably fake or silver-plated.

The History of Stamping Metals

Stamps have existed since ancient times as a way to show the purity of precious metals. In many ways, these were actually among the first forms of consumer protection.

In Europe, the tradition of hallmarking stems from the simple fact that frauds have always been rampant anywhere that money can be made. The assaying process assured consumers that they were getting what they paid for and not a similarly colored metal.

The British had a very intricate method of stamping their metals. These include a stamp from the assay office, with different offices in different towns having their own stamps, a date mark, and the assayer’s mark indicating purity. Added to this was the maker’s own stamp.

The system used in England has changed over time and the assay office town stamp is no longer necessarily an indicator that the town in question was actually where the item was assayed.

While not entirely standard, the early United States didn’t adopt their own standards until the 1860s. Before this, the vast majority of silver was obtained by melting coinage and there were no formal assay offices. Instead, pieces were marked with “COIN” or “PURE COIN” to indicate the origins of the silver.

The US adopted the sterling standard in the 1860s. Unlike the intricate marks used in Europe the majority of items that met the sterling standard were simply marked “STERLING” or “STERLING SILVER”.  Many vintage marks, but far from all, include the name of the manufacturer.  These stamps can offer good insight into the origin of a piece.  In very rare instances, American silver from the period of the 1860’s to the 1970’s was marked only 925.

Hallmarking is a complex subject, especially when it was done before modern times. The assays range from complete destruction of part of a batch of objects to simple touchstone processes. How things are done largely depends on the office and origin.

What does a 925 mark mean when stamped on jewelry 925 stamp on ring LUXURIA

Photo Above:  A modern 925 silver ring with 925 stamp partially seen in the bottom left.   The LUX is the manufacturers mark.  The 925 standard mark became the international convention in millesimal expression (i.e. 925/1000) in 1976 when it was jointly agreed to by Europe, England and the United States.

 

Is 925 Mark Silver a Good Choice for Rings?

Absolutely. Sterling silver is one of the best materials around when it comes to ring construction. It has a traditional precious metal feel while remaining hard enough that you won’t have to worry about damaging it in normal use.

Sterling silver is still a standard in jewelry, few pieces are ever made with fine silver since it’s so soft. Those that are made of fine silver are generally fine pieces made as pendants or earrings.

It’s long-lasting, tarnish-resistant, and easily cleaned in the event that it does antique. There’s a reason the sterling standard exists: except for purity it’s superior in almost every way to fine silver.

Looking for a Sterling Silver Engagement Ring?

Now that you know the 925 stamp’s origin and what it means for the metal involved you likely feel a bit more confident in your ability to select silver.

Many people are opting for sterling silver as the base metal of rings these days. It’s hard, long-lasting, and costs less than gold.

In any case we hope we’ve answered the question, what does a 925 mark mean when stamped on jewelry?   Armed with this information only one question remains: how do you choose the right sterling silver ring for yourself or your beloved?

Well, it might be easier than you think. Why not take a look at our guide today?

Want to learn more?

Sales of sterling silver engagement rings with cubic zirconia stones (sometimes referred to as temporary or placeholder rings) have skyrocketed in recent years as more prospective grooms seek to eliminate the risk of buying the wrong natural diamond gemstone ring.  Read more about silver with fake diamond rings

Here is five reasons why silver engagement rings are on trend for 2020 and beyond.

Upon noticing a green tint to their finger some readers ask, does 925 silver turn your finger green?  Read the linked article to find out!   

We also welcome any comments you have on the topic of what does a 925 mark mean when stamped on jewelry ?    Please use the comments section below.

18 replies on “What Does a “925” Mark Mean When Stamped on a Silver Ring?

    • Ralph Ede

      Hello Leonard, It means the necklace is most likely gold Vermeil, in which the base metal is 925 silver over which a gold plating is applied. Please note the gold plating is usually very thin, can be damaged and will wear off with use over time.

      Reply
    • Ralph Ede

      It is hard to be sure without sighting and testing the material content Tina. The 7 will likely refer to the ring size USA 7 whilst the NVC may be the initials of jeweler or the makers mark.

      There is a jeweler based in Kingston Jamaica that uses the NVC mark for unique one off designs largely using semi-precious gemstones, though Avon also distributed jewelry using an NVC mark which was largely low cost, mass produced, made in China jewelry. We believe that NVC usage in that instance internally identifies the vendor Avon used to manufacturer the jewelry.

      The reason we recommend testing for material content is not all jewelry stamped 925 is silver.

      Reply
    • Ralph Ede

      Without sighting and testing the ring it is difficult to be sure Rachael. If the ring is gold in colour we’d say it is most likely gold vermeil. If the “gld” was in capitals i.e. “GLD” it could represent a makers mark (usually the initials of the maker / designer) or a brand mark. But as you’ve mentioned gld is in lower case we assume that’s attempting to communicate its gold but when used in combination with 925 i.e. “gld 925” we’d take it to mean a 925 silver ring plated with a layer of gold. Hope that’s useful.

      Reply
    • Ralph Ede

      Hello Nathan,

      When 925 is stamped on Jewellery it usually means the metal material is silver alloy. Sterling silver is usually 92.5 per cent pure silver and 7.5 percent copper, but other metal(s) are sometimes used in place of copper, for example nickel. We are not familiar with the “MA” inscription. “China” simply means the jewelry is made in China.

      With respect to worth, it really comes down to the material content. Silver is a precious metal and its value – along with gold – has surged in recent times, reaching its highest peak in 6 years. Recent spot prices are over US$20 per oz. Many investors currently see precious metals as a safer store of value in these uncertain times. However, we’ve seen many made in China rings which were stamped 925 but in fact were silver plated over a base metal. These have no market value.

      Reply
    • Ralph Ede

      You don’t provide much information on the ring so it’s difficult to make a determination. In general , silver makers marks are characterized by two or three letters and/or an identifying symbol which we can look up in a Jewelry hallmark publication.

      An “L” following a “925” purity stamp is not a maker’s mark that we are aware of and therefore gives no clue on who the maker is. We suspect the “L” in this instance is actually intended to identify the ring size. L is a UK ring size (the letter size code is also used in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand ) and is the equivalent of USA ring size 5 ¾ . Does that make sense to you?

      Reply
  • Charles Wheeler

    Ive ran across a tennis chain and marking on the clasp is DA then 925 is upside down. Could these be diamonds. Its large 32 grams and guessing 10 plus carats if so. Thanx in advance

    Reply
    • Ralph Ede

      Hello Charles,

      We’ve seen DA 925 stamped on a wide variety of jewellery.

      DA or more commonly D-A is used by Norwegian design house David Andersen. While the house has employed a number of different modernist designers over more recent decades, its signature styles don’t really encompass and embrace tennis chains so we doubt your piece originates from there.

      DA 925 can also be found stamped on mass produced made in China silver and silver plated jewelry. For tennis chains diamond simulants, largely cubic zirconia, is commonly used in place of natural diamond. We doubt your chain has natural diamonds as gems are more usually set in more precious and stronger metals such as gold. Only testing could provide a definitive answer though. Finally, please be aware that even if the stones turn out to be diamonds they will most likely be only of non certified promotional grade. Hope that helps and all the best.

      Reply
    • Ralph Ede

      As a rule of thumb, virtually all silver rings or other silver jewelry marked or stamped 925 or sterling 925 are modern.

      The 925 standard mark became the international convention in millesimal expression (i.e. 925/1000) in 1976 when it was jointly agreed to by Europe, England and the United States.

      That said, the 925 standard mark was also very rarely used in vintage American silver. However, the vast majority of US jewelry circa 1860’s to 1970’s is marked STERLING or STERLING SILVER and often includes the name of the manufacturer.

      Reply
  • Joel Holland

    I like buying vintage Native American pieces. But what does the “EDE” stand for on the .925?
    Also, how old is it usually if it’s marked 92.5?

    Thank you…

    Reply
    • Ralph Ede

      As you are a collector of native American jewelry we’d urge you to consider the purchase of books like Hallmarks of the Southwest by Barton Wright. This particular book (there are other options to) appears to be a very useful tool for identification of individual hallmarks. It was originally published in 1989 so it doesn’t cover more recent silversmiths but for jewelry to be considered “vintage” it needs to be about 30 years old anyway.

      We are not specialists in this area and our current hallmark guides don’t cover this niche. A quick glance online suggests the EDE .925 hallmark or EDE 92.5 hallmark is modern and possibly of Navajo tribal affiliation but the jewelry designs we’ve seen have more of a mass produced rather than handcrafted feel and this observation is supported by their low asking prices. Furthermore, the hallmarks we’ve seen in photos of are modern 925 stamps pressed into silver raising further doubts that some of the vintage native American jewelry advertised – is vintage.

      Bottom line? Sales of fake native American jewelry are on the rise. Hopi, Navajo and Zuni style jewelry offered for sale in various marketplaces is actually being manufactured offshore in Asia. It’s not uncommon for plastic or synthetic acrylic resin or dyed Howlite to be used in place of natural turquoise, so please take care.

      Reply
  • Lee

    Are these type of rings worth anything? I’m not selling mine as it is my engagement ring AND a family heirloom but I’m just curious.

    Reply
    • Ralph Ede

      If your ring is silver and stamped 925 then absolutely the ring has value because silver is a precious metal.

      Silver is valued in USD per ounce. In fact the price of silver has increased by over 40% year to date in 2020. Some investors who want protection against inflation buy silver and gold as inflation hedges and this precious metal demand drives up value.

      If the 925 mark ring is also set with precious and/or semi-precious gemstones these will also add to the rings value. A qualified jewelry valuer is the best place to have the ring assessed if you have an interest.

      Of course being a family heirloom, the sentimental value trumps everything else.

      Reply

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