What are Sterling Silver Markings?
Markings can be of a number of types: Trademarks called Maker’s Marks, or Hallmarks. They indicate the who, what, when and where of the item.
Sterling Silver marks are punched or lasered marks found on silver that indicate the piece’s purity and provenance. If you have an item of silver that bears a Hallmark and/or Maker’s Mark, you will likely be able to ascertain where it was made, when it was made, the purity of its metal and who its maker was.
A Sterling Hallmark indicates 92.5% purity.
Sterling silver hallmarks vary depending on the country in which the piece was made. There are thousands of hallmarks, but one of the most common hallmarks for sterling silver is the stamp of the Rampant Lion. The Rampant Lion hallmark, pictured below, third from the left, has been the stamp used in the United Kingdom for hundreds of years and can be found on silver jewelry and antique items such as silver dishes, bowls, serving trays, and cutlery. Sterling silver is 92.5% fine, and the other 7.5 % is usually copper, which gives the item increased strength.
North American Hallmarks are often words, abbreviations or numbers.
Some hallmarks used in North America for necklaces, bracelets, rings, and charms have the word “Sterling,” abbreviations: STG, STER, SIL or the numbers 925 or 925/1000.
If you do not see any markings on your item, chances are your item is plated, made of copper, nickel, lead, zinc or a combination of these and would require testing to confirm the metal composition.