What Does 925 on Gold Jewelry Mean?

Have you noticed the number “925” etched into a jewelry clasp or on the back of a pendant?

The stamped number “925” on gold jewelry means that it is sterling silver with gold plating over it. While not fake, a piece with the 925 mark on it is not pure gold. This hallmark is referencing the purity of the metal beneath the top coating. It is not referring to the purity of the gold. 925 gold is known as gold vermeil.

Most jewelry owners are surprised to learn that their gold jewelry with a 925 stamp is sterling silver. 925 doesn’t reference the type or purity of the gold at all. Surprised? 

It is important to understand jewelry markings before buying (and gifting!) jewelry.

Does The Stamp Make The Jewelry More Valuable?

A stamp on a piece of jewelry is called a hallmark. Hallmarks are important because it defines what type of metal the jewelry is made out of. It can also help with proving authenticity.

That etching is stamped into jewelry to specify the type of metal the jewelry was made out of. 925 is commonly engraved on gold and silver jewelry. Jewelry stamps, also known as hallmarks, are the first clue to determining how much a piece of jewelry is worth. 

A common mistake amongst consumers is that gold-colored jewelry with the hallmark 925 is 92.5% pure gold. This is not true. 925 does not refer to the quality of the gold, only the metal beneath the gold (typically sterling silver). Gold is not classified by percentages. It is classified by karats. 

925 gold does not have worth in gold. Monetary worth is in the silver used as the base metal of the jewelry. When determining the value of 925 gold jewelry, base your estimate on the value of sterling silver (See below) 

925 Gold Jewelry – Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages to purchasing 925 gold jewelry

925 gold jewelry is commonly purchased and sold around the world. There are several advantages to doing so.

  1. 925 gold is less expensive than 10k-24k gold.
  2. Gold vermeil is gold plating over sterling silver. This is much more durable than gold plating over other alloys such as copper.
  3. It will not tarnish unless it is exposed to chemicals or moist air.
  4. 925 gold looks very similar to 10k-18k gold despite being sold at a fraction of the price.
  5. Gold vermeil is considered the top alternative to 14k gold in terms of durability, shine, and sensitivity on the skin. 
  6. It is easy to clean at home.

Disadvantages to purchasing 925 gold jewelry

The catch with 925 gold jewelry is that you get what you pay for. While the pieces can be very beautiful, gold vermeil is not meant to withstand the test of time. There are a few disadvantages to buying 925 gold jewelry.

  1. The gold plating will dissolve over time.
  2. 925 jewelry cannot be worn in water or exposed to any chemicals.
  3. The value of the jewelry is based on the value of the sterling silver used to make the piece. The amount of gold in gold vermeil is so small that it doesn’t have any value.
  4. Gold vermeil does not hold its original purchase value. The worth of this jewelry is in what it means to the person that owns it. It does not have a significant resale or monetary value. 

How Do You Rate the Quality of Gold?

The quality or purity of gold is rated by karats. For example, 24k gold is 99.9% pure gold. The chart below identifies the most popular karats and the corresponding purity percentage of the gold.

24k gold99.9%
22k gold91.7%
18k gold75%
14k gold58%
10k gold41.7%
9k gold39.7%

Plated vs. Pure Gold

Pure gold jewelry is made out of solid gold. The percentage of gold in a pure gold piece is rated by karat. Pure gold jewelry is the most expensive and longest-lasting out of all fine gold jewelry. It is waterproof. Solid gold also retains its value. That is why it is the gold jewelry standard for investment pieces like engagement rings.

Plated gold is made through electroplating. An electric current dissolves metal cat-ions into a very thin coating. This thin coating of 18k-24k gold is then applied over another metal. The base metal of most gold-plated jewelry is silver, brass, copper, or nickel. 925 gold is 92.5% pure silver metal with a gold coating adhered over the top

Plated gold is much less expensive than pure gold. It is also less durable. The gold coating can wear off in as little as 1 year. It is also not advised to wear plated gold underwater or while handling chemicals. Even gentle cleansers such as shampoo can erode the gold plating.

White Gold vs. Red Gold

Jewelers create different colored golds by mixing 24k gold with other alloys or metals. 24k gold is the purest and made from 100% gold. White gold is made by mixing 24k gold with nickel and/or zinc. Red gold is made by combining 24k gold and copper. 

To obtain 18k white gold, you combine 3 parts gold with 1 part white alloy. The formula for red gold is 3 parts gold and 1 part copper. 

Is the 925 Mark on Silver Rings Too?

The 925 mark is most commonly seen on silver jewelry. Silver rings with the 925 hallmark are made from 92.5% silver. 925 silver is also known as sterling silver.

This is considered one of the purest forms of silver. The remaining 7.5% is composed of harder metals to increase durability. Silver is a soft metal and therefore easily damaged. By adding a harder metal, silver jewelry lasts longer and has a better shine.  Nickel and copper are usually harder alloys mixed with sterling silver.  

Common Variations of 925 Mark on Gold Jewelry

Don’t see the 925 hallmark on your gold jewelry? Check for a few other markings before determining if your piece is pure gold or not. 

The 925 stamp means there is gold plating over sterling silver. Some jewelers will use the markings STG or STER. These both mean sterling silver and have the same meaning as 925.

It is also common to see 925EP. EP stands for electro-plated which is how the gold plating is applied to the sterling silver base.

Jewelry stores may try to make gold with the 925 stamps seem more luxurious or valuable than it truly is. Sales clerks might use the term “gold vermeil” instead of gold plating. While it is certainly a fancier word, it does not mean that piece of plated jewelry is any purer than one stamped 925 or STER.

Receiving jewelry as a gift can be the ultimate surprise. But we’d be lying if we didn’t admit to at least wondering how much it’s worth. Let’s get into the value of 925 gold and silver. 

How Much is 925 Silver Worth?

The amount 925 silver is worth is based on the weight of the piece of jewelry. The estimated pricing below is based on the current value of 1 gram of silver in November 2022. The price of silver fluctuates daily. The values listed do not take into account gemstones or other decorative items set in the jewelry. 

How Much is 925 Silver Weigh?

Simple Ring3.6 grams
Thin Chain Bracelet10 grams
Thin Chain Necklace (18”)15 grams
Cuff Bracelet21 grams

Should I Buy 925 Gold Jewelry

Before buying any type of jewelry you should determine how much you want to spend on the piece and how often you plan on wearing it. You should also think about how well you care for your jewelry.

For example, if you shower or swim with necklaces and earrings, 925-stamped gold jewelry may not be the best option. The water will damage the gold plating. However, if you are in the market for statement jewelry that you only wear on particular occasions, the lower cost of gold vermeil might be the better choice. It is also a preferred option for those who lose or misplace jewelry often as it is less expensive to replace. 

Overall, 925 gold is a cost-effective option for those looking to purchase beautiful jewelry. Gold vermeil is a better choice than traditional costume jewelry. It is durable and often mistaken for pure gold. 925 gold jewelry is a great choice for pieces you will not wear frequently. It is also a good option for gifts and children. 

Explanation of Jewelry Stamps

There are lots of different stamps etched into jewelry. Hallmarks, or jewelry stamps, is how manufacturers state what type(s) of metal the jewelry is made out of.

Platinum Jewelry Stamps

Platinum is a popular precious metal in jewelry making. It is used in place of white gold. Stamps for platinum include 900, 900PT, PT900, 950, 950PT, and PT950. These all reference the amount of platinum the jewelry is made out of. 900 is 90% platinum. 950 is 95% platinum. The PT stands for platinum and may or may not be added to the hallmark. There is not an increased value either way.

Gold Plating & Gold Bonding

Jewelry stamps may include GP after or before 925 on gold jewelry. GP stands for gold plated. The addition of these letters is to clarify that it is not pure gold, but rather gold vermeil.

Watches are built to withstand more wear and tear. As a result, watches are usually gold-bonded. This means that gold is bonded to the base metal. This is more durable than gold plating. An item that has been gold bonded is denoted as GF in jewelry stamps.

The stamp HGE is a commonly misunderstood marking because it is usually followed by a gold purity hallmark like 18k. HGE stands for “heavy gold electroplate”. This is a form of gold plating, but with the thinnest amount of gold used. Jewelry stamped with HGE is usually the least valuable because the gold plating is so thin. 

Still curious about 925 stamped gold jewelry? Keep reading to get the answers to commonly asked questions.

Other Questions You May Have

Is 925 gold pawnable?

Yes, gold stamped 925 is pawnable. Pawn shops will value it similarly to sterling silver since that is the primary metal of the piece.

Depending on the pawn shop you visit, some may give you the price of the silver based on weight. Others may offer more money based on the style and condition of the piece. The amount of gold plating is a calculable figure, however, it is usually so thin that it is deemed worthless and not factored into the value of 925 stamped gold jewelry. 

Is gold marked 925 worth anything?

The value of gold hallmarked 925 is in the silver, not the gold plating. The worth of the piece is determined by the amount of silver it can be melted down into.

The amount of gold in the gold plating can be determined by jewelers. However, unless it is hallmarked with something such as  1/10k or 1/18k, the amount of gold is considered inconsequential and of no value. 

How do you clean 925 gold?

When cleaning 925 gold, first start by gently rubbing the jewelry with a microfiber cloth. Make sure the cloth is soft and clean. Most dirt will be removed just by buffing the jewelry.

If your 925 gold piece is very dirty you can clean it with dish soap. Do not use jewelry cleansers. These are two harsh and will ruin the gold plating. Be careful to only wash pieces of 925 jewelry with warm (never hot) water. Wipe and rub stuck-on grime with a clean, microfiber towel.

Can engagement rings be made of 925 gold?

Any piece of jewelry can be made with 925 gold or sterling silver. It is much more affordable than 10k-24k gold and is a popular choice for those shopping on a budget. 925 gold engagement rings can be just as beautiful as pure gold rings. 

925 gold jewelry makes a beautiful gift. Most people will not recognize plated gold from pure gold just by looking at it. It is difficult to not be swayed by the cost savings on gold vermeil. Make sure you know what you are purchasing in a jewelry store and the best way to take care of it. Remember, the true value of a piece of jewelry is what it means to you!