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Sterling jewelry in 92.5% silver; what is the other 7.5%?

I have an allergy to nickel and when I wear most of my silver jewelry marked 925 for any length of time, usually 3-4 hours, I start to develop hives, but I have a few pieces which are marked 925 but also have the word sterling stamped on the piece that don't affect my skin. Could it be that some marked 925 have mixed metals containing nickel and the others additionally marked with sterling just have copper. Is there a way to determine the content of the 7.5% before I make a purchase?

Carol Russell
medical office - Somers Point, New Jersey


Hi Carol,
Normally 925 silver and sterling silver are alloyed with copper. It is possible that nickel can be used as an alloy. The 925 stamp states fineness of silver only. The other 7.5 % can be anything. The next time you buy silver jewelry you could ask the jeweler who the manufacturer is, and see if they provide assay certifications on the jewelry. You will only find this kind of service in the finer stores, forget the mall isle vendors. I had a mall isle vendor tell me once "what do you think you're buying gold or platinum here?" Even if you are spending just $20.00, you have the right to know exactly what you are buying. Good Luck!

Mark Baker
Process Engineer - Syracuse, New York


Sterling Silver (925) jewelry is often plated to enhance tarnish resistance. It is usually nickel plated followed by a thin rhodium plating. As the thin rhodium plating wears off, the nickel plating is exposed to the skin and may cause rashes or allergic responses. Nickel is not used in Sterling Silver alloy formulations. Try to get your Sterling Silver jewelry without plating on it.

Best regards,

Jim Sivertsen
Alloys & Refining - Alden, N.Y., U.S.A.

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