Sterling silver is a type of silver which has 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent other metals, most often copper. The ‘fineness’ is 925. this is different to the silver we know of in silver coins which is usually 99.9 percent or thereabouts.
Sterling silver originated in England in about the 13th century. The origins of the terms "Sterling" and "Pound Sterling" seem to be lost in time and there are many theories as to where the terms original came from. But it is certain that the term has now come to mean an agreed upon quality and standard by which other purities of the metal silver are judged.
Sterling silver objects are usually stamped with either the word "Sterling" or .925 percent or the Lion Passant mark as part of the Hallmark.
Of course this does not apply to silver coins, which nowadays, will have a silver contend higher than the sterling silver standard.
Silver coins and small bars, often known as biscuits, usually have a silver content of 99.9 percent of silver and considered pure silver. Always check the silver content when purchasing silver coins or bars.
Silver is an excellent way to store one’s assets. Silver is a steady metal and currently on a gradual rise in value, partially due to the increasing demand of countries like China but also due to the world wide shortage of silver due to lack of mining. Most silver has been obtained as a by product of mining other metals such as gold, platinum, aluminum etc. It seems unlikely that silver will be in plentiful supply world wide in the foreseeable future and likely will remain in high demand.
When buying silver bullion such as coins and bars, they should come sealed in their own protective plastic bubble, and it is inadvisable to remove this as it lets in moisture which will tarnish the silver. Also handling proof coins and bars will reduce the value as the surface of the bullion will deteriorate due to the handling. Sweat, oils, harsh skin, all can affect the surface of coins and small bars and reduce the value thereby.
The candle sticks, the soup tureens and the cutlery is really what is meant by sterling silver. There is, strictly speaking, no such thing as sterling silver bullion.