What is 925 silver?

What does the number 925 mean in jewelry? If you are reading this article you are wondering why this mysterious figure is imprinted on some rings, necklaces, earrings or bracelets. And in fact, there are many people who have asked us for it. The more experienced will smile: the answer is very simple. But there are several things to know around the 925 brand.

Anello in argento sterling con ametista. È visibile la punzonatura con il numero 925
Pianegonda ring in sterling silver with amethyst. The hallmark with the number 925 is visible

What does the number mean. The number 925 stamped on the surface of a jewel (but also of household items or cutlery) is associated with silver. Indeed, to a particular type, the one that distinguishes sterling silver. And here is the meaning of the number revealed: sterling silver is an alloy made up of 92.5% pure silver, while the rest of the metal is made up of other metals, almost always copper for the remaining 7.5%. Why not use 100% pure silver? The answer is that an alloy with other metals makes silver more resistant: your rings and earrings will scratch less. At the same time, this alloy allows for simple silver processing. More rarely, you may also find the number 999. In this case it is pure silver, not alloyed with other metals. But in this case you have to be careful, because pure silver is also very soft and deforms more easily.

Collana della collezione Skin
Silver necklace from the Skin collection

Oxidation. Sterling silver also tends to turn black, that is, it oxidizes. To reduce silver oxidation and porosity, in addition to copper, other substances can be added, such as germanium, zinc, platinum, silicon and boron. But they are alloys that then take on other names, such as argentium or sterlium.

Anello in sterling silver
Sterling silver ring by Thomas Sabo

How to clean sterling silver? Find all the information in this article.

argento ossidato
An oxidized silver bracelet

History. But why is 925 silver called sterling, the English name for sterling? Obviously because the pounds were made in silver. The sterling alloy, however, did not originate in England, but in continental Europe and was used for trade as early as the 12th century in the area that is now Northern Germany. In England the composition of sterling silver was subject to official controls even before the mid-1100s. This type of alloy then spread all over the world.

Bracciale della collezione Selene in argento rodiato
Bracelet from the Selene collection in rhodium-plated 925 silver by Officina Bernardi

How to eliminate forever the oxide

The silver of the jewelry, unfortunately, oxidizes and becomes black. How to prevent silver from turning into a blackened metal? Here are some simple tricks to prevent silver from being black ♦

Raise your hand who in the drawer doesn’t have at least one silver jewel that has oxidized. He was so cute, maybe it was cheap, or maybe you received a gift, the inheritance of your aunt and so… In any case, earrings and silver rings can very often be blackened due to the contact with oxygen: they oxidize and leave an unpleasant color on the skin.

The Twisted Coin, anello in argento con dollaro
The Twisted Coin, silver ring with dollar

Why does silver turn black? Simple: sterling silver or 925 is not 100% pure. In reality 92.5% is silver, while 7.5% is composed of other alloy metals. Often it is copper, responsible for the oxidation reaction, that is, the reaction of the metal in contact with the oxygen present in the air, but also with sulfur (often caused by pollution), or with humidity. This is achieved by contact with the skin of people who have a high Ph, i.e. slightly more acidic sweat. Finally, skin lotions, sunscreens, deodorants, perfumes and hairspray are other factors that can accelerate the oxidation of the metal.

Bracciale in argento sterling con pietre
Perfectly polished sterling silver bracelet

Off the light. To avoid making silver blacken, however, one must first learn to keep it well. Light, heat and humidity are enemies of silver and get to blacken it. Store the jewels in a closed box, lined with a soft cloth to prevent the metal from being damaged. If you don’t have a wooden box, you can also opt for a plastic box or a jar, but not transparent.

Anello Maui in argento e madreperla
Maui ring in silver and mother of pearl

Desiccant bags. The humidity, as mentioned, blackens the silver. Store the jewels together with desiccant bags, which are also used for electronic equipment. Inside the bags there may be, for example, silica gel, which keeps the surrounding air dry. It is a useful advice especially for those who live in houses or in humid places, such as at the sea or near a stream. Attention, keep the bags out of reach of children: they are not edible at all. Don’t want to buy bags? You can get away with a piece of chalk, another material that tends to absorb moisture.

Sacchetto essiccante
Desiccant bag

Also read: How to clean silver jewelry

Beware of acid. Acid substances are harmful to the health of your silver. Ok, you don’t have the habit of sprinkling your sterling silver earrings with lemon juice. However, the acidity of the skin, the cosmetics, and even the casual contact with some residue in the kitchen can quickly make the jewelery shine disappear. Do not put necklaces, rings and bracelets in mustard, lemon, vinegar and, in general, food … If you have sweated during the day, clean the jewels before storing them.

Rubber and latex. You didn’t suspect it, but even rubber and latex are not friends of silver. Prolonged contact may oxidize silver more quickly.
No dishwasher. Have you thought about polishing silver jewelery in the dishwasher? Mistaken. The detergent and the heat of the water can cause oxidation and corrode the metal. Silver must be cleaned with cold water and mild soap.

No dishwasher. Have you thought about polishing silver jewelery in the dishwasher? Mistaken. The detergent and the heat of the water can cause oxidation and corrode the metal. Silver must be cleaned with cold water and mild soap.

Anello con argento annerito
Ring with blackened silver

Still, there is a little trick to avoid this. Just copy the advice in this video we found on the net. The images are very clear, so there is no problem to understand its meaning.

Ok, it is advice banal, but it works. It goes like this: you take your ring that is blackened, and first of all clean it well. There are many ways to do this: you can use hot water and a couple of teaspoons of salt, leaving it to soak jewel. Or you can use water and baking soda. Once the gem is clean, here is a suggestion: you have to dry thoroughly and then just paint inside with transparent nail polish. Let dry and, voila, here is the problem eliminated. Easy, right?

Comment protéger une bague en argent ? di mariefrance

Ciondolo in argento ossidato
Oxidized silver pendant
Anello Contrarié
De Vecchi, contrary ring
Pianegonda, anello in argento della collezione Planus
Pianegonda, silver ring from the Planus collection/caption]

[caption id="attachment_35412" align="aligncenter" width="709"]Gli effetti dell'ossidazione dell'argento The effects of silver oxidation

Anello in argento di Bury
Bury silver ring

Silver jewelry, what to do in the summer


Even the silver suffer from the weather, much more than gold. When temperatures rise and the humidity increases, your silver jewelry are in danger and tend to become blacks. Here’s what you need to do.

Un bracciale in argento che si è ossidato
Un bracciale in argento che si è ossidato

Rule number one: keep them dry. If the climate is humid, more quickly they tarnishes up the jewelry. To keep your silver shining and bright, try to put the jewelry in a cool, dry place, away from the sultry air. Do not mix more than pieces of jewelry in the same container: silver is a soft metal and especially with the heat the individual pieces may scratch each other. If you have any gypsum (like those used by the blackboard), you can place them close, because this material it absorbs moisture. Alternatively, you should take a little bag with silica gel, ie the colloidal silica. It is a polymer of silicon dioxide (a kind of plastic) which has properties desiccants and absorbents, there are usually inserted in the boxes that contain electronic material.

Collana in argento di Tiffany
Collana in argento di Tiffany

Rule number two: avoid exposure. Humidity, some acids and cosmetics such as lotions and perfumes or the contact with the rubber bands can cause fogging of the silver, due to the presence of sulfur in the elastic material. Silver is also sensitive to substances such as mayonnaise, egg, mustard and onions, which contain sulfur. When it’s hot, the chemical reaction can be accelerated. Do not wear silver jewelry even for swimming and sunbathing.

Pulizia dell'argento con acqua e poco detergente
Pulizia dell’argento con acqua e poco detergente

Rule number three: cleaning. Hygiene helps your jewelry to shine for longer, especially when the heat threatens their integrity. You can clean your silver jewelry simply using ingredients from your kitchen. Soak in warm water and soap the jewel, and clean with a soft brush. Then just rinse under running water. After this, wipe with a soft cloth or a damp cloth.

Pulizia dell'argento con acqua e poco detergente
Pulizia dell’argento con acqua e poco detergente

Rule number four: polishing. If your silver is tarnished, you can choose to polishing: just use a soft cotton cloth or muslin. Rub carefully, but without using too much energy: the heat, easily deformed the metal. Giulia Netrese

Se per errore si fa il bagno in piscina o in mare con i gioielli, meglio lavarli subito dopo con acqua corrente
Se per errore si fa il bagno in piscina o in mare con i gioielli, meglio lavarli subito dopo con acqua corrente

Ciondolo nella versione argento
Ciondolo in argento

Modelle con i gioielli della collezione Incipit
Modelle con i gioielli della collezione Incipit

What happens to your jewelry when it oxidizes

Why are your jewelry get black? Why do earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets oxidize? In this article we explain from a scientific point of view what happens to your jewels when they oxidize. If, on the other hand, you want to know how to eliminate oxide from your jewels, read here.

Some jewels, particularly those of silver, tend to oxidize and become black or with shades tending to green. It is the effect of oxidation. In some cases, jewelers take advantage of this change in metal and offer jewelery with partially blackened surfaces. But in this case it is an aesthetic choice. The problem, however, is when oxidation is not desired. Let’s consider this aspect from a scientific point of view to understand how oxidation occurs.

Collana in argento annerito by Giovanni Raspini
Collana in argento annerito by Giovanni Raspini

A metal oxidizes occurs when a chemical reaction occurs on its surface. Oxidation occurs because the electrons that make up the atoms of some metals (not all of them, we’ll talk about it later) move from the metal to the oxygen molecules. In essence, they divorce their spouse (the rest of the atom, that is, the central nucleus and the other electrons) and become engaged to another: oxygen. It is a process that in chemistry is called ionization. When they escape from the metal, the electrons that have divorced from their original nucleus to join the oxygen, create the oxidized surface. Basically, they are family breakers.
Il processo di ossidazione del metallo
Il processo di ossidazione del metallo

Why does oxidation occur?
That’s the best part. You can’t blame all the fugitive electrons. In families, the faults are not (almost) all of a single partner. In this case, the chemical process that leads to oxidation can be caused simply by contact with the air, and therefore with the oxygen it contains. Or oxidation can be caused by the metal exposed to water (even water contains oxygen) or to acidic substances that corrode it, for example, cosmetic creams or skin sweat. In short, oxidation occurs because the electrons of the metal are seduced by the irresistible call of oxygen: a true chemical betrayal.
Anello in argento ossidato
Anello in argento ossidato

Anti oxidation metals
Fortunately, not all jewelry oxidizes. As all women know, if they give you a gift or if you buy a gold jewel, you can rest assured: it will not blacken (except in rare cases, when it is alloyed with metals that oxidize). In addition to gold, there are metals that are not by chance called noble, which do not blacken, such as platinum, ruthenium, rhodium, palladium. Other metals, which however are not classified as noble, resist oxidation and are used in jewelry, such as titanium and aluminum. Finally, there are also metals invented by man, that is alloys of different materials, which are not sensitive to oxygen, such as stainless steel and brass.
Anello sfaccettato, con una gemma naturale incastonata in argento ossidato e oro 18 carati
Anello sfaccettato, con una gemma naturale incastonata in argento ossidato e oro 18 carati

Orecchini in argento ossidato
Orecchini in argento ossidato