What is sterling silver? A guide to silver purity

Many people in Chicago want to sell their silver. Here is a guide to help you figure out what you have.

Ultra Fine Silver is 99.99% Silver (999.9). The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coin is an example of Ultra Fine Silver. Fine Silver is 99.9% Silver (999). This is used in silver bullion bars.

Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver (925). On silver pieces, this is marked as 925. In sterling silver, 92.5% of the object by weight is silver and 7.5% will be another alloy, usually copper. Usually, jewelry and silverware are sterling silver. If your jewelry is not marked "sterling silver" or "925", it is probably not sterling silver.

Coin Silver is 90.0% silver (900). This is the purity of silver used in coins in the United States. Coins such as quarters, dimes, half dollars and silver dollars were made of coin silver before 1965. If you have old US coins, they are silver if they are year 1964 or below. Nickels between 1942 and 1945 had 35% silver in them as nickel was in short supply during World War II. Nickels from other years are only made from copper and nickel.

Those are the most common silver purities. You may have older silver from Mexico that is 98.0% silver. English silver pieces and some English silver bullion coins may be made of Britannia Silver which is 95.84% silver, and will be hallmarked as 958 and/or with other hallmarks.

Canadian Silver coins in circulation have an 80.0% silver standard.

Other old silver pieces from Europe may be anywhere from 87.5% silver to 75% silver.