Buying Silver Jewellery - when is 'silver' not silver?

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Jewellery is one of the largest categories on eBay - lots of lovely things to buy! However, buyers need to read the descriptions carefully to ensure that the item they are buying is really what they want. The term 'Silver' in the listing title can mean many things, so never assume that the item is pure silver.

In the UK, the term Sterling is used for the purest form of silver usually used in jewellery. This term means that the metal used contains 92.5% of pure silver. The remaining 7.5% is another metal, often copper. The items will be marked 'Sterling'.

Outside the UK, the Sterling equivalent is often referred to simply as '925'. This means that, as with Sterling silver, the metal has 92.5% of pure silver. These items will be marked '925'.

If an item is described as 'silver-plated' this means that there is a very thin layer of silver over a base metal. The plating can wear off.. Sometimes these items may be marked 'SP'.

'Tibetan Silver' contains some silver, but this can vary from around 24% upwards. 'Alpaca Silver' contains no silver at all, but is a mixture of copper, nickle, zinc and tin. Such items will have no hallmark.

'Thai Hill Tribe Silver', often from the Karen Hill Tribe in northern Thailand, is exceptionally fine silver and these items contain from 95% to 99% pure silver - more silver than Sterling items - but may not be marked. 

All types of silver can make beautiful jewellery. The important thing is not what type of silver you buy, but that you know just what you are buying. Happy shopping!

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