Silver & Hallmarking

What is Silver?

Silver by Victoria provides our customers with Handmade and wholesale Silver products. These products are handpicked with our customers in mind, whilst aiming to reach all budgets and styles. In order to achieve this we have to be able to provide jewellery which can be diverse and afforded by everyone. Our silver is clearly stamped for quality guarantee and at present we have jewellery which is stamped 925.

925 Sterling Silver - It is a soft white lustrous metal with the chemical symbol Ag, occurring naturally in its pure free form (native silver), as an alloy with gold and other metals, and in other minerals. Pure silver cannot be used in making jewelry as it is extremely malleable and it can suffer damage easily. It also tends to get very soft, even in conditions of normal temperature. That is why 925 sterling silver is used and not the pure form of the precious metal.

The method craftsmen use to increase the strength of the metal consists of adding other materials to silver. The life span of the jewels made of silver depends on this process, as problems like malleability and softening can make them break apart. By combining pure silver with alloys, the craftsmen make pieces of jewelry that are more resistant to scratching and damage. One of these combinations is the one known as 925 sterling silver.

It is a blending mix obtained from 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. Copper is not always used by craftsmen and it can be replaced by other metals or combinations of materials. This is considered the best choice as copper is cheap and the refining techniques have improved during the last years. By adding copper to silver, craftsmen have managed to obtain a highly reliable alloy that is successfully used in the jewelry industry. The combination is very popular as the silver craftsmen can make earrings, rings, bracelets and other pieces of silver jewelry, knowing that their work will be resistant and durable. One may think that by adding other metals to pure silver, the quality becomes lower. But this is not the case with 925 silver. This alloy enhances the jewelry properties and copper is only a very small part in the combination.

Why Hallmark?

Hallmarking can be dated back to 1300 when it was introduced to protect the public and traders against fraud. As silver has to be alloyed with other metals to be workable, hallmarking was put in place to check the levels of silver and other metals used. All silver tested and hallmarked as 925 Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper. Hallmarking of precious metals is a legal requirement in the UK. If it has a hallmark (as below) you can be sure you are getting the genuine article.
The Birmingham Assay Office was founded in 1773 by an Act of Parliament. Silversmithing at this time was a booming business in Birmingham producing buttons, buckles, spoons and other small articles. It is the largest Assay Office in the World. There are now four Assay offices in the UK - Birmingham, London, Edinburgh and Sheffield.

Current Hallmark Symbols Until 1998, a Hallmark consisted of four compulsory Marks. Since 1998 the date Mark has become optional but the other three symbols remain compulsory (see chart at bottom of page). Optional Marks The maker has the option of adding any of the following marks (these are not required by law) :-
Traditional marks - Any Traditional Marks on British articles over the centuries can be added.
Date Letter - This will tell you in which year the article was tested and marked.
Commemorative Marks - Special Marks to commemorate significant national events may also be added eg The Millenium Mark to celebrate the year 2000. The most recent mark is to honour the Queens Jubilee in 2012.
Optional Pictorial Marks - From 1999, pictorial marks have been optional and can be added to the figure of parts per thousand.

The only items which are exempt are those which are under the legal weight threshold, 1 gram for gold, 0.5 grams for platinum and 7.78 grams for silver. 

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