What is Sterling Silver, 925 Silver, and Mexican Silver?

We love all things Mexican silver jewelry here at Mexican Silver Store. While Mexican silver jewelry is known throughout the world, there are still many misconceptions about what it is, where it comes from, and what really makes it distinct from other types of silver jewelry.

Read on to learn more about all things Mexican silver jewelry. If while you’re reading you have any questions or need help with any items that strike your eye from our online store, please let us know! We’re always happy to help.


What makes Mexican silver so special?

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Some places are just known for certain cultural trademarks. While many think of the beautiful foods, art, and locales when they think of Mexico, just as crucial to the cultural fabric of the country is silver jewelry.

Acquiring and wearing Mexican silver jewelry is like owning Italian leather boots, drinking Kentucky whisky, or enjoying Swiss chocolate. You can feel good about enjoying something how it was meant to be enjoyed. 

Mexican silver jewelry like that from Mexican Silver Store is not only made from the finest quality Mexican silver available, but uses traditional designs and motifs that have been used for generations.


What is sterling silver?

“Sterling silver” refers to silver that is at least 92.5% pure silver. Most of the items we sell at Mexican Silver Store are made with sterling silver. Generally, you’ll see an item marketed at sterling silver, 925 silver, or see .925 labeled on the piece itself. 

Sterling silver has many advantages, including:

  • Stunning beauty — There is truly nothing like the real thing when investing in jewelry
  • Durability — Sterling silver is strong, and will hold up to moisture and daily wear 
  • Hypoallergenic — Less pure silver uses nickel as a “filler” metal, which can cause an allergic reaction in some people


If sterling silver is only 92.5% silver, what is the rest made of?

You should always feel good about buying and wearing sterling silver. While the remaining 7.5% is made from a “filler” metal, it is not enough to affect the look or function of your silver jewelry.

Generally, copper makes up that final 7.5%, though nickel and rhodium can also be used at times. No matter what is used as a “filler” metal, you’ll never notice much of a difference.


What is the history of silver in Mexico?

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Silver has been mined and used in jewelry in Mexico for thousands of years. Even in Pre-Columbian times, the people who lived in what is today Mexico cherished the metal and used it in their day-to-day life.

As time went on, the metal became a major part of Mexico’s economy. Today, Mexico is one of the largest exporters of silver in the world.

While people have made silver jewelry in Mexico for thousands of years, in 1920 William Spratling reinvigorated the craft of Mexican silver jewelry. In Taxco, Mr. Spratling developed his style using Pre-Columbian work as a foundation. Today, silver jewelry remains an important artistic and commercial outlet in Taxco and Mexico at large.


What themes and motifs does silver jewelry use?

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Jewelry craftspeople draw inspiration from any number of sources. With a jewelry tradition as strong as Mexico’s, this is often drawn from history or long-standing cultural significance.

Some common themes and motifs that Mexican jewelry craftspeople pull from include:


What is plated silver vs. covered sterling silver?

While these 2 classifications may seem extremely similar to the layperson, they couldn’t be further apart when it comes to the quality of the jewelry in question.

  • Coated silver jewelry: These items are completely crafted from silver and then sprayed and protected with a special coating. It can also refer to “gold coating,” which covers the item to give it a unique and distinct look. These items are still considered sterling silver if 92.5% silver is used to create the piece prior to coating.
  • Plated silver jewelry: Unlike coated jewelry, plated silver uses a completely different metal to form the item and is then plated with 92.5% silver. This IS NOT considered sterling silver, as the total silver in the item is not 92.5% silver. Be on the lookout for items that say “sterling silver coated.”


How often should I clean my silver jewelry?

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Given sterling silver’s durability, it does not require constant maintenance. That said, it is good to give your jewelry a little tender loving care to keep your items in pristine condition.

If your jewelry is beginning to look a little tarnished or disclosed, the best way to get it back to looking brand new is to use a soft microfiber cloth (like those you’d use to clean glasses). Gently rub along the grain and you’ll notice a big difference in its shine. 

While many retailers sell specialized silver cleaner, we recommend avoiding such products as they can do more harm than good. If you think your jewelry needs a serious cleaning, we recommend bringing your item to a professional jewelry cleaner.


How should I store my silver jewelry?

While wearing your silver jewelry is a great way to keep it in good condition, storing your silver jewelry is simple.

We recommend storing in a felt-lined jewelry box. If you want to go the extra step, storing in an airtight protective silver bag (or even a plastic bag) will help keep it in great condition. Whatever you do, do not store on untreated wood, newspaper, or rubber.


Who makes silver jewelry?

While anyone can make silver jewelry, in order to be true Mexican silver jewelry it must be made by Mexican craftspeople in Mexico. When buying silver jewelry, always search out a shop or retailer that works with local craftspeople.

Not only will this support local communities in Mexico and support working Mexican artists, you’ll be working with craftspeople who have been trained and are experienced in crafting jewelry in the authentic Mexican tradition.


Where is the best place to buy silver jewelry?

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At Mexican Silver Store, we work with traditional Mexican craftspeople to produce jewelry you’ll be proud to wear. We use sterling silver in our silver jewelry and create items in both modern and traditional styles.

Shop our collection of stunning jewelry or contact us to have any other questions you have answered!  


  • Nancy Carter

    I have lots of stterling jewelry and they don’t really tarnish. they get a little dul but a sterling jewelry dip will shine it back up again. I also have mexican silver and I find that the metel looks kinda cheap like plated silver and if has permanently tarnished but after a a while. It turns like pink.

    • Hi Nancy – thanks so much for sharing your experiences. 🙂
      silver is silver across the boards — Mexican silver is no different then Italian silver. The “Mexican” and the “Italian” , for example, simply denote where a particular piece was made. It is not a reference to the silver. A piece of sterling silver is at least 92.5% pure silver or it is not, no matter where it is made. Perhaps the pieces that you’ve encountered that have a Mexican hallmark on them are plated, or alpaca, or not sterling. Usually anything that is hallmarked with a 925 included in the hallmark will indeed be a sterling silver piece, regardless of the origin of the piece.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to share!
      Sara and Andrew

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