If you take off a piece of your jewellery and turn it over in your hands, you will see there are numbers or letters stamped on it. Perhaps inside a ring, behind a pendant, on the butterfly of an earring, the catch of a bracelet, or the bottom of a charm. These stamps represent the fineness of the precious metals the piece is made from.
Most pure precious metals are too soft to wear well as items of jewellery and as a result they are alloyed. This means mixing them with other metals for strength, as well in some cases, for colour (such as rose and white gold.)
The purity of the metal is expressed as a percentage.
Sterling Silver - 925 - 92.5% Pure Silver
9ct Gold - 375 - 37.5% Pure Gold
18ct Gold - 750 - 75% Pure Gold
22ct Gold - 916 - 91.6% Pure Gold
Jewellery may also be stamped with with letters, for instance 'SIL' for Silver or 'Plat' for Platinum.
Other stamps found on items of jewellery may be makers marks, used to signify the creator of an original artwork, or hallmarks, which identify everything from the City to the year a piece was made.
Do you have any unusual markings on your jewellery? I'm only too happy to answer any questions you may have.