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Cracking the Code: How to Tell if Sterling Silver is Real

July 04, 2023 4 min read

Cracking the Code: How to Tell if Sterling Silver is Real

Whether you’re buying jewellery for yourself or buying silver jewellery findings to craft beautiful homemade pieces, sterling silver jewellery stands as an emblem of understated luxury, with a timeless charm that transcends style, class, and time.

However, amidst an increasingly intricate marketplace, it can be challenging to discern genuine sterling silver from smart imitations. In the following guide, we’re going to give you a number of tips that can help simplify the process when it comes to recognising authentic sterling silver - especially if you’re using jewellery findings to craft unique pieces. Let’s take a look!


What is Sterling Silver?

A precious metal with its roots firmly grounded in history, sterling silver is an alloy composed primarily of pure silver, enhanced by a small fraction of other metals. While pure silver is soft and prone to damage, the combination with more robust metals, typically copper, lends sterling silver its desirable durability. 

The resulting alloy is approximately 92.5% pure silver, the remaining 7.5% comprising other metals - this unique composition is what gives sterling silver its iconic versatility, strength, and exquisite sheen. With its mesmerising allure and functional strength, sterling silver has become a favoured material in creating exquisite jewellery pieces that withstand time.


The Importance of Verifying Silver Authenticity for Jewellery Makers

As a jewellery maker, the responsibility of authenticity in the materials you use is paramount: after all, customers rely on your expertise and honesty to provide them with pieces that are accurately labelled and priced. Sterling silver jewellery findings are particularly popular due to their durability and timeless appeal, so it’s crucial that these components are genuine sterling silver if they are being marketed as such.

Selling jewellery made with genuine sterling silver findings not only ensures the longevity and quality of your pieces but also maintains your reputation as a trusted artisan in the industry. If a customer were to find out that the sterling silver piece they purchased is, in fact, an imitation, it could lead to significant consequences for your business: trust is a fundamental cornerstone in the jewellery business, and once broken, it is challenging to rebuild. 

Plus, word of mouth and customer reviews are powerful influences in today's digital age, and negative feedback can significantly impact your business. In more serious outcomes, there may be legal implications involved with misrepresenting the material of your jewellery, leading to possible financial penalties and damage to your brand's reputation.

Therefore, verifying the authenticity of your sterling silver findings is not just a matter of ensuring quality but is also a legal and ethical obligation.


How to know if Sterling Silver is Real

So, how can you tell if the sterling silver findings you’re buying are authentic? Here’s what to look out for:


Genuine sterling silver pieces often bear specific markings or 'hallmarks' that serve as evidence of their authenticity: in particular, look for a stamp marked as '925', 'Ster', 'Sterling', or 'Sterling Silver'. The '925' hallmark is particularly significant, referring to the 92.5% pure silver content in the piece. If your jewellery or alloys do not contain any of these stamps, you may not be dealing with genuine sterling silver.

The Magnet Test

Silver in its pure form is not magnetic, so if your piece of jewellery or jewellery finding is drawn towards a magnet, it may well be a fake. However, bear in mind that this is not a definitive test, as some counterfeit pieces may also be non-magnetic.

The Nitric Acid Test

The Nitric Acid Test is a slightly more conclusive method to confirm the authenticity of your sterling silver: genuine silver will turn a creamy colour when exposed to nitric acid, while fake silver will turn green. However, we’d recommend letting a professional jeweller conduct this test to avoid damage to your jewellery.


Authentic sterling silver is relatively heavy in comparison to many other metals. If your piece feels lighter than you would expect, it may not be genuine.

'925 FAS' and 'FAS' are common stamps found on genuine sterling silver jewellery. '925' stands for the 92.5% silver content, while 'FAS' stands for 'Fused Alloy Silver', which signifies that the piece is a silver alloy, further reinforcing its authenticity.

The journey to acquiring sterling silver is marked by a discerning eye and informed judgement. Armed with this knowledge, you can navigate the captivating world of sterling silver with confidence.


Understanding '925 FAS' and 'FAS' on Jewellery

When reading the tips above, you might be wondering: what does 925 fas mean on jewellery? Put simply, the appearance of '925 FAS' or 'FAS' on a piece of silver is a sign of authenticity. 

To break it down, '925' denotes the 92.5% silver content in sterling silver, in accordance with the standard composition of the alloy. The letters 'FAS' are an acronym for 'Fused Alloy Silver', which indicates that the piece in question is an alloy with a blend of silver and other robust metals. This marking is a declaration of the piece's composition and its enduring quality, born of a blend that is both visually stunning and impressively durable.

The 'FAS' stamp is not exclusive to sterling silver, however, and can also be found on other silver alloy jewellery. If the '925' stamp accompanies 'FAS', you can be confident that you are dealing with sterling silver. Without the '925', 'FAS' simply signifies that the piece is made from a silver alloy, but the exact silver content is unknown.


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