Sterling silver is often considered “pure silver,” but it is actually a silver alloy. True pure silver is too soft for most uses and contains 99.9% silver. Sterling silver only contains 92.5% silver. The remaining 7.5% is a base metal, which is typically copper. The less costly metal hardens the alloy so that the metal mixture can be cast into various shapes that will retain with use. Sterling silver can be identified by the stamp marked on the bottom of the piece. One of the most common uses for sterling silver is in the making of tableware (knives, forks, and spoons) and the silver tray in coffee and tea service sets.
If you are interested in determining the properties and value of an item, contact Coins of the Realm. We are built a reputation for accuracy in grading coins, jewelry, stamps, diamonds, and other items in the Gaithersburg area. Call us today at (301) 637-6220 to learn more about our services.