Jewelry makers use lots of different ways to indicate the purity of the metal that they use in their products. They stamp certain pieces of jewelry as 24K gold, 18K gold, Sterling Silver, and in lots of other ways. And just as soon as you think you have started to understand what all the different terminology means, along comes this term, and you wonder what the heck it is . . .
Where do you come across this term? Usually when you are trying to buy a piece of platinum jewelry, when a salesperson says proudly, “This is made of 925 Platinum!”
That sound pretty good, right? Your mind tries to fill in the blanks. “925 is almost 1,000,” you think, and you assume that you are looking at a piece of jewelry that is made of almost 100% pure platinum. But is that correct?
Well, nearly. Here’s the info you need:
When an item is stamped “925 Platinum,” it means that it is made of 92.5% platinum.
Well, that certainly tells you something. But before you pay your good money for a piece of jewelry, here is some other information you need to know about that “925” classification:
You will also find pieces of jewelry that are marked “925 Silver” and “925 Gold.” Those terms mean exactly what the “925 Platinum” term means – that the item you are looking at contains 92.5% silver or gold. At other times, a ring or other piece of jewelry will only be stamped “925,” which is not very helpful, is it?
“925 Gold” is 22K gold. Bear in mind that pure gold is 24K, so “925 Gold” is nearly pure gold. However, be aware that gold-plated jewelry is sometimes being sold as “925 Gold Plated,” which means that only the outer plating is made of 22 Karat gold. That’s confusing, right? Well, it could just be that the company that made the item you are looking at is trying to make you think it contains more gold than it really does. You need to find out.
You can ask the jeweler or other vendor to tell you how the term “925” was applied to the item you are considering. In most cases, you will learn the company that made the item of jewelry applies the term to the products it makes, saying they are made of “925” silver, gold or platinum. If you are told that, ask to see printed materials and specifications from the maker, which should let you know the actual metallic content of the item you are looking at. If the jeweler or other retailer cannot or will not provide you with some documentation about how the “925” term was applied and what it means, you are not getting enough information to know the value of what you are being asked to buy.
“925 Silver” is really another way of saying that you are looking at Sterling Silver, which means that the item you are looking at has a high silver content. But you need to know more, as the next point we are about to make tells you . . .
You Need to Know What Other Metals Are Part of the “925” Mix
As we explained earlier, “925” means that 92.5% of the metal in the item you are looking at is gold, silver or platinum. That means that 7.5% of its content is made up of other metals. In other words, you are looking at an alloy. So . . . what are those other metals that are part of the alloy?
Before you plunk down your dollars to buy an item of jewelry, you need to know. Those other metals could be there to color the alloy (copper can be added to gold to produce pink gold, for example, or zinc or palladium to create white gold), affect its value (copper can be added to pure silver to make it cheaper), or improve its durability (iridium or cobalt can be added to platinum to improve its abrasion resistance).
Taking the Confusion out of Your Buying Choices
If you are looking at an item of jewelry and do not know its metallic content or what it is worth, there is a simple way to clear up the confusion. Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners and tell us as much as you know, such as who is selling the item whether it has any markings, and more. Our precious metal experts are standing by to answer your questions about today’s confusing world of metal classifications. And if you already own the item, we will be happy to test it for you and tell you its exact metallic content.