What Is the Difference Between 950 and 925 Sterling Silver Ring? (Explained)

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Silver has been around for a long time. It is a precious metal that has been used in many applications throughout the years.

All silver items have been made with different levels of pure silver involved, so what is the difference between 950 and 925 sterling silver?

The difference between 950 and 925 sterling silver is the pure silver content. 950 sterling silver is 95% silver and 5% copper or a mix of copper and another metal. 925 sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper or a mix of copper and another metal.

You may be thinking that you would rather have pure silver than this mixed-up version of silver, but there is a real good reason as to why someone would want a silver alloy rather than pure silver. Keep reading to find out why!

History of Sterling Silver

The naming conventions of sterling silver go as far back as the 12th century.

During this time, the British would trade their cattle to the Germans, who were in the east.

As payment for these cattle, the Germans would use their specially made and manufactured coins.

These coins were made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of any other metal.

The other metal in the mix was traditionally copper, but may have been a variety of different metals during this time.

Because these coins came from the east, they were dubbed “Easterlings”.

The name has since evolved and was abbreviated to what we know today as sterling, or sterling silver.

These silver coins that came from the Germans were found to be pretty durable and reliable. This mix of metals was soon adopted as the official way to make coins in Britain.

King Henry II even decided to bring in silversmiths from Germany to help make the transition to these sterling silver coins.

The British Pound is based on the sterling silver pound. A pound of sterling silver was the original identifier.

In order to be “officially” sterling silver, the piece of metal must be at least 92.5% silver and 7.5% of another metal.

Technically, anything that has more pure silver in it, but is still mixed with another metal, is sterling silver.

For example, 950 silver is still considered to be sterling silver. Other varieties are also still technically sterling silver.

950 sterling silver is sometimes called Mexican Silver and was used in Mexico as coins.

This metal has not been in wide circulation for a very long time. They stopped producing them around 1977.

If there is any Mexican silver to be found out there in the form of coins, it will probably be turned into jewelry by jewelers.

The metal still has a good makeup and can be made into fine jewelry.

What Is the Difference Between 950 and 925 Sterling Silver Ring?

Why Mix Silver with Other Metals

Now that you know about the origin of sterling silver, you can start learning about why you would ever want to mix your silver with any other metal.

Silver in its pure form is made of 99.9% silver.

The jewelers standard of “pure” silver will be printed with a 999 stamp on it showing its purity. It can never really be 100% silver.

There are too many trace elements in silver (like iron and copper) that just cannot be taken out of the silver.

Silver is a very soft metal. In its pure form, silver is malleable, or shapeable, with only the force of your hand.

Most of the time, if you want to work metal, you have to have a hammer and some heat. This is not the case with silver.

If you were to want to wear a piece of 100% silver jewelry, the chances of one of your fingers or hands hitting and deforming it is way too high.

As a way to fight against having your jewelry look like garbage, the silver that is used in jewelry is mixed together with copper and sometimes other elements.

Since copper is a lot more durable, mixing it together with other metals makes it so that your jewelry is just like those Easterling coins that were made all that time ago: durable and long-lasting.

Other Types of Silver

925 sterling silver has become the standard that everyone has sought to copy.

This combination of silver and copper is highly durable and has kept pulling its weight for years. This has not always been the case.

Throughout the years, the different combination of silver and other metals have made their rounds and have tried to unseat 925 sterling silver.

Brittania Silver

For a brief period, starting in 1697, the parliament of England tried to replace sterling silver as the official standard of metal for coins and other wrought items of metal, most commonly utensils and flatware.

This, however, did not pan out very well. During the time, there was a silver shortage making its way across England.

Additionally, Brittania silver was found to be too soft and would often times even deform under its own weight

Brittania Silver

Coin Silver

Coin silver is the term that refers to silver that was made for coins starting in the 1820s when silver coins were still the standard form of currency.

This is mostly just an American term for silver that was 90% silver and 10% copper.

It was also used for the coins in the American territories of the Philippines and Panama.

Continental Silver

This type of silver can oftentimes be found in Europe. this is an alloy of 83% silver and 17% copper, or sometimes even 80% silver and 20% copper.

This combination is used for flatware and holloware, such as vases and picture frames.

All of these alloys have been used and approved as standard formulas for silver.

Sterling silver has come a long way since it was creating in Europe all that time ago.

It has had many iterations and has become synonymous with good-quality materials.

If you are looking for something that will last a long time, the good standard of 925 sterling silver will never treat you wrong.

If you take care of it, the jewelry that you get will last a long time and will be something that your children’s children will love and adore for a long time to come.

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