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What Does 925 Mean on a Ring?

So, you’ve seen “925” on your ring and wondered what that was? It’s not a permanent price tag, nor is it some symbol of a secret society. It’s actually quite simple — so if you were hoping for something exciting, sorry about that.

So Why Do I See 925 on My Ring?

925 is a representation of the purity of the silver you’re wearing, also known as a “hallmark.” It’s a portion of parts out of 1,000. So, when you’re wearing a 925 silver ring, that means that for every thousand parts, 925 are silver and 75 parts are made of a different metal.

925 silver is more commonly just known as sterling. Unlike “true” silver, sterling is made of 925 silver parts out of 1,000. Silver itself, of course, is 1,000 out of 1,000 parts silver. This doesn’t mean that sterling is “fake.” It’s just a slightly different metal with different uses and advantages.

How Did Hallmarks Get Started?

Originally, a hallmark was required of English goldsmiths. In those times, goldsmiths were required to bring their wares to a government-controlled office for approval. This was done to protect consumers from buying sub-standard gold. While there were plenty of cool designs, also known as “makers’ marks,” now you’ll find numbers like 925.

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History of Silver Wedding Rings

Wedding rings are a fairly ancient tradition, though the modern version of them we have is relatively recent. While a version of wedding rings came around roughly 3,000 years ago, modern Western wedding customs don’t really come about until roughly the year 1400, with our modern understanding of engagement rings first coming about in 1477

silver wedding rings on hand

Silver (as well as gold) hasn’t been a mass-produced wedding ring option for all that long. While silver and gold rings have existed for many years, they weren’t accessible for most. Wedding rings of the mid-Victorian Era were defined by many ornate gold and silver options, but these were both reserved for nobles and the upper class.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that silver rings of any sort became attainable for the average person. While there were several types of silver (and multiple options for non-silver metals of similar colors), silver rings weren’t really widespread until around the second world war.

History of Sterling Silver

Sterling silver hasn’t been used exclusively for wedding rings in its history. From the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, sterling silver was a popular choice for elegant silverware. If you’re wondering…yes, it’s called silverware because it was (and still sometimes is) made of silver. It’s now left most people’s tables and found its way to men’s wedding bands, so it’s been quite a ride for sterling silver.

Characteristics of Sterling Silver

Well, for starters, it’ll have 925 stamped on it. That’s pretty much a dead giveaway. Let’s say it doesn’t have a stamp, though. You don’t have to just guess. If your ring is magnetic, it’s not sterling silver. Gold, platinum and silver aren’t magnetic, but some other metals used to make rings are.

Another hallmark (ha) of sterling silver is its hardness. If you’re able to bend the ring in any way, it isn’t sterling silver. It may be pure silver, which is much more malleable. The likelihood, though, is low that it’s pure silver since pure silver isn’t a popular ring choice.

silver ring oval diamond

Beyond being tough, sterling silver is also hypoallergenic. While not guaranteed to prevent allergic reactions, hypoallergenic metals have a significantly lower likelihood and can be worn by a greater range of people.

If you aren’t sure that the piece you’re looking at (or maybe one you inherited) is sterling, you can always get a professional’s opinion and even an appraisal.

925 Frequently Asked Questions

Is 925 Silver Expensive?

It sure looks expensive, doesn’t it? While it looks just as good as pure silver, it’s actually one of the best choices when shopping for affordable engagement rings. While it isn’t cheap, it also isn’t cheaply made, nor is it nearly as expensive as its pure silver counterparts.

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Because of its durability, sterling silver is a good investment as well. While it’s not necessarily an appreciating asset, it’s easy to maintain and is a strong metal. You won’t need to spend much to maintain and repair it over the lifetime of the ring.

why do i see 925 gold ring

Why Do I See 925 on a Gold Ring?

Because it’s sterling gold! Nope, just kidding. When you’re looking at a 925 gold ring, you aren’t actually looking at a gold ring. Well, at least not a proper one. That 925 simply means it’s a gold-plated ring that’s mostly made of sterling silver and isn’t pure gold.

Is It Okay to Buy 925 Gold? 

Yes, absolutely! There’s nothing wrong with buying 925 gold rings because they’re just gold-plated sterling silver. As a general rule, the majority metal is hallmarked on the ring. If you have a 925 gold-plated ring, yeah, there’s gold on there, but the majority will be sterling silver. Therefore, it will likely be marked with a 925 hallmark. If you don’t mind that, you can get the look of gold for a very affordable price.

Now, the only issue that could arise here is if someone is trying to claim it’s real gold and get gold value for this plated ring. As a rule of thumb, if you see 925 on a gold ring, it isn’t gold. If someone tries to tell you it is, they’re either wrong or lying. Either way, keep it moving. If you’re ever unsure, consult a professional’s advice.

Is Sterling Better Than Plated Silver

Is Sterling Better Than Plated Silver?

That really depends on what your goal is. If you just want to save money, you can usually get plated silver for cheaper than 925 silver. If, however, you want something that will hold up over the long-term, you’re much better off going with sterling. 

Plated silver will likely fade or chip over the years, and whatever metal is under there will be exposed. If you don’t mind replacing a less expensive ring every once in a while, plated is a perfectly fine option.

It’s important to note that even sterling silver will eventually show age. While the silver itself isn’t the issue, it’s the 75 parts per 1,000 that tend to fade over the years. You didn’t buy a defective ring — it’s just what happens. Copper is a popular choice to fill out those 75 parts. Copper, and materials like it, will eventually age and oxidize with enough exposure to oxygen, moisture and time. It’s just how it goes.

To maximize your ring’s life, you want to take it off anytime you’re exercising, washing the dishes or could get it wet in general. Routine cleaning will help, too.

silver ring round diamond

How Do I Clean 925 Silver?

If you keep up on your cleaning, your ring will look better and last longer. Like other jewelry, using a small bit of mild soap and warm water is all you need in most cases. Once you mix the soap and water, put the ring in there for about 10 minutes. If you need to get into the crevices of your ring, make sure to use something delicate like a soft-bristle toothbrush.

Once you’ve gone through the initial cleaning, all you have to do is rinse your ring back off and gently dry it. Make sure the ring is completely dry since moisture and 925 silver don’t play well together. Take a few minutes to get this right, as you want to be delicate when drying your ring. If you don’t have a soft cloth to clean your ring, it’s worth the investment. In a pinch, paper towels will do just fine, though.

If your ring needs a deeper cleaning, you can consider store-bought ring cleaners. Make sure the one you choose is safe for sterling silver, as some cleaners may react poorly with the copper. 

If you don’t want to go store-bought and the soap and water didn’t do the trick, you’ll find several popular home remedies to try. Most of them are variations of each other and use common kitchen ingredients like lemon, vinegar and baking soda.

What Do I Need to Do for Long-Term Maintenance

What Do I Need to Do for Long-Term Maintenance?

The first thing to do is wear it. Yep, you read that right. As counterintuitive as it may seem, routine wearing is actually one of the best things you can do for a sterling silver ring. While it might sound strange, the oils on your skin are actually good for the long-term health of a sterling silver ring.

Besides regular cleaning, most of your long-term maintenance for sterling silver is preventative maintenance. Keep your ring away from household cleaners and take it off anytime you exercise. Really, any chemical isn’t great for your sterling silver, so just err on the side of caution and you’ll be fine. 

You don’t have to freak out if you’re at the barbecue and you start to sweat a bit. Your ring won’t combust. A little sweat is perfectly fine. It’s strenuous exercise you want to avoid. It isn’t just the exercise itself, though. Vigorous activity increases the likelihood you can hit your ring on something and chip or bend your ring. While one time won’t hurt it, repeated activity will.

When you aren’t wearing it, make sure you store it in a safe place and keep it in the same place each time. Keeping it in the same place isn’t so much for the long-term health of the ring — it’s for the long-term health of you. Seriously, what’s more stressful than thinking you’ve lost your wedding ring somewhere? 

As long as you pick a storage option that’s airtight and has a cushioned place to put your ring, you’re fine. A good ring box is all you need. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money on a good jewelry box. It’s cheaper than prematurely replacing your ring!

Is 925 Silver Durable?

Very much so! In fact, you rarely find pure silver rings because of how soft it is. Pure silver (often marked 99.99 or some variation of it) is incredibly soft and hard to form. Because of this, most jewelry makers opt for a silver alloy, like sterling silver, when making rings, necklaces and other pieces of jewelry.

While the idea of wearing pure silver seems pretty cool, it’s fairly impractical overall. Sterling silver is one of the more durable materials out there. Coming in around a five on the Mohs hardness scale, sterling silver is actually harder than iron and platinum! Sterling is much more equipped to handle your day-to-day life than pure silver and will hold up against anything you throw at it for decades.

Who Is 925 Silver for

Who Is 925 Silver for?

Well, as we learned, it’s no longer exclusive to the tableware of nobles and the ultra-wealthy Victorians. Most anyone can really benefit from 925 silver. Its combination of weight, durability and price makes it an attractive option for anyone looking for a ring. Since routine wearing is good for sterling silver, those looking for a ring they’ll wear daily instead of just bringing it out for special occasions should consider sterling silver. 

If your day-to-day life is active and you need a ring you know can keep up, sterling silver is a strong candidate. For those whose style leans more towards the classic, there’s nothing quite like a simple silver band. No fuss and a timelessly stylish look. Sterling silver is a perfect option for the unfussy who want something classic that’s always going to work.

It isn’t magic, nor is it a code. 925 is simply a hallmark that means you’ve got sterling silver on your finger. While this little bit of knowledge may only come in handy during bar trivia, you now know just a bit more and will be even more prepared when searching for that perfect engagement ring. Good luck!

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