How do you know if your flatware or silver pieces are sterling? Check out this short video.
How do I know it is Silver?
Silver is a little trickier than gold to identify especially if it’s coming from Europe and it’s antique. First, you’re looking for the word Sterling or the number 925. Sterling is 92.5% silver or 925 parts per thousand silver. When you have silver jewelry, it usually says 925 instead of Sterling, but it’s the same exact thing. Sterling is 92.5% silver.
If silver item comes from Europe or if it’s antique, you might see a different number. For example, you might see 800, 900, 835, or 813H. So what do those numbers mean? That means 835 parts per thousand, 900 parts per thousand, etc. Therefore, the items is not quite Sterling, but very close. So if you see 800, 835, 900, chances are very good that that is a silver item.
If you don’t see a number, you are looking for the hallmark you want to see the side profile of a lion. The lion was different depending on the country. So, if made in England, it is a slightly different lion than if made in Germany. You’re also looking for a panther or a king or a queen hallmark.
Another image you might see is an eagle which means coin silver. Coin silver is 90% silver, just like the old U.S. coinage pre 1965 which was 90% silver as well.
The last image that you see on the hallmark is a letter of the alphabet inside a shape like a shield or rectangle. This letter will tell you the year of the item. So all of the silversmiths in London got together every year, they knew exactly what symbol they were going to use for that year. The following, you would see the letter in the alphabet inside the same shape. This shape and “font style” would be used every year until you got to the final letter in the alphabet. After the letter z, the following year would be a new shape and new font style. You can research your items on the internet and find out what year they were made.
Happy hunting for silver!