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Great round up of different metal types!

One thing I've always wondered: Is American metal required to be hallmarked? I've never seen it mentioned in any discussions. In Britain Gols, Sterling Silver and (I think) platinum have to be marked with a year, makers mark and the place the metal was assayed. Is it the same in the states?

Laura Kramarsky

In the U.S., the rule is that if you have a quality mark (like .925), you must also have a maker's mark. No year, but you cannot have the quality mark without the maker's mark.


Hi fellow beaders and jewelry makers! I am just now finding time to explore other blogs and I'm really enjoying see all of your creations. I too am a jewelry maker and have set up my own blog. However I'm new at this and not sure how all of this works yet. I do have a question for anyone regarding silver jewelry. Has anyone found a way to keep sterling jewelry from tarnishing? If not, what is the best way you've found to polish it when there are alot of different beads around it that can't be polished?

Thanks for your help and I hope to become a part of this "blogging" community. Please check out my blog if you are so inclined.


In Mexico, nickel "silver" is called alpaca. It is marked as such or left unlabelled. Sterling silver is hallmarked 925. Occasionally, the English word sterling is added. While living there and returning on vacation, I have purchased quite a bit of Mexican (sterling) silver jewelry over the years. I personally have not heard the phrase "Mexican silver" used to refer to a nickel alloy. Mexican silver artisans produce some very beautiful and creative work. It bothers me to think that people might assume that it's not "real" silver.

Laura Kramarsky

Hi Sarah -

Yep, the real problem is when "Alpaca Silver" from Mexico gets imported into the US and then referred to as "Mexican Silver". I have seen some very beautiful pieces bought *in* Mexico (living in TX for years means I saw a lot of Mexican work!), but what I don't trust is any U.S. thing that says it's "Mexican Silver." If it isn't marked as .925 or Sterling, there's no way to know what it is. Unfortunately, with the massive growth of things like ebay and the explosion in the home-jewelry-making market, people who don't know any better are going to Mexico, buying "Alpaca Silver" and then marketing it here as "Mexican Silver".

None of this applies to anything that's hallmarked, obviously, nor does it apply if you know or can speak directly to the artisan! It's just what I have found looking around in recent years. I am going to add your comment to the "Update" above, though, so that people can see it, too, if that's ok with you!

Abigail Miller

You might also add to this excellent summary the Japanese alloys shakudo and shibuichi. Shakudo is 4% gold in copper, and is used as a base for gold plating, and to get really deep black oxidized colors that contrast well with gold and silver. Shibuichi comes in two varieties, 15% silver in copper, and 25% copper in silver. Its polished color is a pale copper color. The 25% is useful for depletion gilding the surface when you heat and pickle it repeatedly until the surface is fine silver.

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