Search: sterling silver
Why: A lot of my rings are sterling. Most are stamped ".925" inside.
Answer: An alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925. Fine silver (99.9% pure) is generally too soft for producing large functional objects, so it is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength.
The More You Know: Three possibilities for the origin of the word "sterling" used in this sense:
- The early Middle English name sterling described small stars that were visible on early Norman pennies (as in Old English steorling).
- Comes from "the coins of Easterling" - an area of 5 small towns in northern Germany - which were made of hard, high-quality 92.5% silver.
- Derived from starling, as some coins of Edward the Confessor were marked with birds.