Jewelry Stamps and Marks
Sterling Silver Jewelry
Sterling silver jewelry is made of an alloy of fine silver and one or more other metals.
Jewelry made from at least 925 parts out of 1000 (written as 925/1000) of fine silver may be stamped Sterling or Sterling Silver . Also the terms Silver or Solid Silver may be used in the jewelry description or jewelry stamps, although the term Solid Silver may be old, if can be used if the piece is not hollow.
You will sometimes see sterling silver jewelry stamped with the term 925 . This again is referring to the piece of jewelry containing at least 925/1000 parts of fine silver. It could just as well have been stamped sterling silver or one of the other terms above. Sometimes the term 925 is stamped instead of sterling silver when the piece of jewelry is too small to fit the term sterling silver . For example an earring might only have room on it to fit a stamp saying 925 .
If the jewelry is made from less than 925/1000 but more than 900/1000 of fine silver, it is called coin silver.
When looking, the term sterling should never be abbreviated on the markings stamped on the jewelry.
If the item is less than 900/1000 fine silver it cannot be represented as silver in the United States.
The Federal Stamping Law also prohibits the use of either the words sterling or coin , alone or with other markings on plated items. For example a piece of jewelry cannot legally be stamped with the term sterling plated .
Gold jewelry is made from an alloy of gold and other metals. Gold jewelry should be marked and described to show the fineness of the gold alloy. For example you may see 24k. Gold or 14-Karat Gold stamped on a piece of gold jewelry. You may also see the abbreviated form 14k . or 10kt.
In the United States:
In Europe the markings are different than in the United States.
Because pure (24k) gold is soft it does not hold up well to daily wear. Because of this most people opt for 14k or 18k gold. Also by adding other metals, different color gold is able to be produced. Examples include "white gold" and "rose gold".
The Federal Stamping Law allows for a variance of 1/2 karat (.0208) in the fineness of the karat gold in articles that have no solder or each piece of a soldered piece. Soldered pieces may have a variance of 1 karat.
A ruling by the Federal Trade Commission has stated that gold and solid gold both refer to fine gold , also referred to as 24 karat gold. If a piece does not have a hollow center it may be considered solid gold and can have a marking such as solid 24k. Gold . Note that the word solid should always be before the karat designation. 14k. solid gold would not be a correct marking.