We all want to believe our fancy silverware sets are pure silver, however, that’s not always the case, unfortunately.
In the category of silverware, one common marking you will see is International Silver Co. International is the company name, but whenever they use this marking, it’s not actually sterling silver. It’s silver plated, and mostly worthless. When they made sterling silver, or 92.5% pure silver, they marked it International Sterling.
Sterling is a legally binding term. If they use the word sterling, it must be 92.5% pure silver, and not plated. An item marked silver, contrary to popular belief, does not mean pure or solid silver, it simply means that it contains some silver, and it doesn’t need to contain much. Silver plating has next to no cash value as it cost far more to remove and process it than it’s worth.
Another common marking in silverware is W.M. Rogers or Rogers and Son. William Rogers pioneered the silver plating process and made a lot of silverware sets. They did make some in sterling silver, but these all say sterling in addition to the manufaturer name. If a piece of silverware says sterling, you can be sure it’s 92.5% silver, and we most certainly buy it at the kiosk.
If you are unsure whether or not your silver items are plated or not, there are specific markings that will help you be more certain. Silver jewelry may say sterling, but more often it will say 925. As we discussed before, sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver, and thus, these marks have the same meaning. Another common marking is coin, or 900 which stands for “coin silver.” US silver coins are made with 90.0% silver, so the 900 marking means the same thing. Many silver pocket watches are made with coin silver and we buy coin silver at The Kiosk all the time.
Just by knowing these markings (sterling
, and 900
), you’ll be able to identify almost all of the silver items that you’re likely to come across in the USA. There are older markings for silverware and jewelry, and they differ based on where in the world they were made, and when.