Sterling Silver refers to the .925 grade of silver, it emerged in England in the 13th century. Silver used to make jewlery is actually Sterling silver. It is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. Pure silver is generally too soft for producing large functional objects, and in Sterling the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give strength whilst preserving the ductility of the silver and a high precious metal content. Other metals can replace the copper including germanium, zinc, platinum as well as a variety of other additives including silicon and boron. A number of alloys claiming firescale and/or tarnish resistance have appeared in recent years sparking heavy competition between the various manufacturers and their different formulations.
All the jewelry and rings you see for sale online will use sterling silver.
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Types of silver:
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 jewelry 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 90% silver and 10% copper, it 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. Coin Silver is lower grade than sterling. The Coin Silver standard was established in the US in the 1820s. This grade of silver was used in the silver coinage of the US as well as other countries that used silver coins minted in the US.
German Silver, Several silver standards are used in Germany, however, the most common standard for flatware and decorative silver objects is the 800 standard (80% pure silver). Hence, when the term "German Silver" is used, it usually refers to this 800 standard.