STERLING SILVER

Sterling silver is a metal alloy containing 92.5% silver by weight. The majority of the rest of the alloy is copper. In England, from 1238 until 1999 (excluding a brief period from 1697 - 1720), sterling silver was the minimum purity of silver alloy that could be legally sold as ‘silver’. Items of a lessor quality had to be described as white metal.

Silver, in its pure form, is very soft. In order, to strengthen it, it needs to be alloyed with another metal and the metal normally used for this is copper. Experience has shown that a ratio of 92.5% silver to 7.5% copper produces an excellent silver alloy, easily worked and highly durable.

In 1158, Henry II made this alloy the legal standard required of the British coinage. This standard and the silver coins that used it were so important to the British monetary system, that the currency became known as Pounds Sterling with one Pound being equal in value to one troy pound of sterling coins.

Because silver had become the backbone of our monetary system it became very important that all silver items were regulated for quality and so, in 1238, Henry III passed a law that stated no silver items could be made which were 'worse than the king's money' and sterling silver became the minimum standard allowed for wrought silver items.

Since that point until 1999 (excluding the period of Britannia Standard Silver from 1697 - 1720) Sterling Silver was the minimum purity of silver alloy allowed to be sold as silver in the UK. However, the hallmarking act of 1999 introduced a new minimum, 800 standard silver, which is 80% pure.

Below you can browse our complete inventory of Sterling Silver items and quickly find the item you're looking for. We have a large range of antique and old sterling silver items to choose from.

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