How to find the Purity of your Silver
Monday, July 04, 2016 • 12 comments
When it comes to precious metals such as silver and gold, you always find that there are varying purities available. In the UK and many other places around the world, Sterling Silver is 92.5% pure. Anything that has more pure silver content is classed as Fine Silver. All of the information that you need to know about any item of silver will be stamped somewhere on the piece and is called a Hallmark. There are many different hallmarks in England, and it can tell you some surprising information.
What’s in a Hallmark?
When you buy stylish silver rings in the UK or any other type of silver jewellery, there will be a hallmark stamped somewhere. The hallmark can tell some quite detailed information about a piece of silver such as:
Who made the item of silver The purity of the silver in the piece The Assay Office where the item was marked and tested The year which the item was tested and marked
Knowing this information can be critical, especially when you are looking at antiques, as it can help to establish a provenance of a piece. To the average person that is buying silver jewellery, the most important aspect is not who made it or where it was tested, it is how pure the silver is. The difference in the value of something that is fine silver, to something that is only silver plated, can be quite large.
What if there is no Hallmark?
When you buy elegant handmade silver jewellery from Silver by Mail, there will always be a hallmark. But you may find that you have some silver which may have come from non-reputable sources, and there is no hallmark, so what do you do then? There are things that you can do in this instance, and one of them is buying a Silver Acid Test. You can purchase a kit online and check the purity of your silver at home. However, as the acid is corrosive, you may end up damaging some of the silver. These tests usually only help if you are testing pure silver, and they will not be able to tell what percentage the alloy mix is within the silver.
If you wish to know the exact purity of a piece of silver, then you will need to take the item to the nearest Assay Office to have it tested professionally. You may also find that your local jewellery shop can assist you with the verification of the purity of your silver. You will need to bear in mind though that you are going to have to pay for this service. The modern technique used is a type of x-ray which measures the purity of the silver without having to damage the item in any way. The process is quick, easy, and also green as no chemicals are used in the testing process.
So by decoding a hallmark or having your silver tested at your local Assay Office, you will know the purity, which will also help you understand its value. With some things though the sentimental value is much more important than the physical value!
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Opening image:Sara Sampaio by Alvaro Beamud Cortes for Vogue Spain Joyas December 2014