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Like 9K gold and 18K gold, the British Assay Office have a certain standard which must be reached in order for Sterling Silver to be named as such: more than 92.5% of the metal must be pure silver. In America, Sterling Silver only needs to be 92.1% pure to achieve its status. The reason Sterling Silver is made into an alloy is that, on its own, silver is a fairly soft metal and therefore copper is normally added to the blend to make it stronger.
The term “Sterling Silver,” emerged in the 13th century and it is no coincidence that the British currency is also called Sterling. Interestingly, in French, the word “argent” also means both silver and money. Another silver standard is Britannia. This is purer than Sterling and to achieve its official hallmark at least 95.84% of the alloy needs to be silver. However, as it is softer than Sterling Silver it is not used as often in jewellery.
In the UK it is a legal requirement for retailers to ensure that all silver items that weigh in excess of 7.78 grams have an official hallmark. Be careful though, as most manufacturers will stamp 925 on the silver jewellery they produce and this should not to be confused with the official hallmark applied by the Assay Office.More recently the Assay Office have added a new hallmark standard for silver known as 800 or “Continental Silver”. To receive this hallmark the silver content must be in excess of 80% of the alloy. This exciting development means that by adding a higher percentage of other metals to the mix, just like gold, we can now create slightly different colours of silver. This new standard is also more tarnish resistant than Sterling Silver.
Our Tookalon pieces are set in Sterling Silver.
GIA qualified Gemmologists
Members of the British Jewellery Association
Members of the Coloured Gemstone Assocation