Silver and gold standards and a look at gemstones

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Margaret's Gemstones and Precious Metals Guide

BeJewelled has a Jewellery Department in the Cornucopia Department Store

SILVER - absolutely pure silver is too soft to be realistically formed or used, so is always an alloy, usually with copper, to make it workable.

Sterling Silver = 92.5% silver; 7.5% copper Often just stamped "925" or "Sterling". Best is a lion passant and assay office mark: E.g. Anchor for Birmingham, Leopards's head for London, etc often with a date letter and maker's mark.

Britannia Standard = 98.5% silver; 1.5% copper NB Do not confuse with Britannia Metal which is a form of pewter popular in the 19th Century and usually silver plated.

Continental Silver = 80% silver 20% copper Usually stamped "800"

Mexican Silver, Indian Silver are terms often used in ethnic jewellery and other items are are not true silvers, or, at best, have been unassayed and of unknown composition.

Alpaca Silver = Not a true silver, but an alloy of nickel, iron and zinc, specially designed for craft jewellery making - strong and flexible.

EPNS = Electro Plated Nickel Silver. Again, not silver at all, but nickel alloy plated with a thin layer of silver. When the plating is worn the true metal often shows through exposing a slightly brassy appearance.

EPBM = Electro Plated Britannia Metal (see above).

False Hallmarks. Many manufacturers stamped plated ware, especialy flatware (cutlery), with marks designed to look like silver hallmarks. The practice was banned in the late 19th Century.

GOLD - absolutely pure gold is too soft to be realistically formed or used, so is always an alloy, usually with copper, to make it workable.

9ct = 37.5% gold, 62.5% copper

14ct = 58.5% gold, 41.5% copper (14K = American)

18ct = 75% gold, 25% copper

24ct = 99.0% gold



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Diamonds, Rubies, Emeralds, and Saphires are regarded as precious gems; others are generically referred to as semi-precious gemstones.

BeJewelled deals mostly with semi-precious gemstones, or glass/paste/rhinestone/marcasite alternatives.

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