Precious Metal Guide

Precious Metals Guide

All Tulip Jewellery is made from precious 925 Sterling Silver.

What is 925 sterling silver?

Sterling silver is the highest quality silver used for jewellery, an alloy of pure silver mixed with other metals to increase durability.

Pure silver 99.9%, also referred to as fine silver is too soft to use on it's own for jewellery and is too pliable and can easily dent, bend and scratch. Sterling silver has 92.5% pure silver and the remaining 7.5% comprises of other metals, usually copper to toughen it up! Hence the name 925 sterling silver! But can also be referred to simply as 'Sterling Silver'.

Other metals can be used but copper is a wonderful companion (and the most widely used), making the silver durable whilst maintaining the lustre and stunning colour.

What is an alloy?

Simply an alloy is a metal made by combining two or more metals to give it strength. 

What is the difference between sterling silver and silver plated?

The difference is simply jewellery that will last a lifetime. Silver plate is a process of bonding a very thin layer of silver to a base metal such as nickel, brass or copper. This layer is so thin it has very little monetary value, is less durable and can wear off over time exposing the base metal. Plated jewellery is often much lighter in weight than sterling silver and commonly used in fashion costume jewellery. We aim to select beautiful designs that you can wear everyday and timeless pieces you will love and want to keep. Which is why we choose to use sterling silver and not silver plated.

What is oxidised silver?

When silver naturally tarnishes it acquires a lovely grey-blackish tint. An oxidised finish is an imitation of this process by deliberately blackening the silver by applying a chemical process to darken the appearance of the silver.

What is rhodium plated silver?

Rhodium is a wonderful powerhouse precious metal and part of the platinum family. Rhodium is sometimes used to plate sterling silver jewellery to protect it from tarnishing. This is a very useful addition to pieces that have intricate details and may not be cleaned easily. One of the rarest and most valuable precious metals rhodium is also hypoallergenic.

Black rhodium is sometimes used to plate Sterling Silver. As it has a blacker appearance than oxidised silver it can be used for a high fashion or dramatic look.


As it isn't possible to know the precious metal content of your jewellery by sight alone, a hallmark guarantees that your jewellery conforms to the legal standards of purity (or fineness).
Pieces are independently tested at one of the UK's Assay offices and must consist of the following 3 marks. Applied by a punched stamp or a laser for more delicate items. 
  • Sponsor's Mark - the designers or manufacturers unique mark 
  • Standard Purity Mark - the metals purity and fineness mark, in our case 925 for Sterling Silver
  • Assay Office Mark
In the UK Sterling Silver must contain at least 92.5% of pure silver and every piece of sterling silver jewellery weighing over 7.78g should be hallmarked. We use genuine 925 sterling silver in all of our pieces which is why our silver is stamped with the 925 purity mark. Our pieces over 7.78g are hallmarked as required.

What is gold vermeil?

Gold Vermeil, pronounced 'ver-may', is the French term for gold plated sterling silver and also known as gilded silver.

Not to be confused with the traditional plating we are used to, Vermeil must meet certain high standards. The plating must be on a base of sterling silver and the jewellery must not be coated with any other metal before the the layer of gold is applied. The layer of gold itself must be a minimum of 10 carat gold and a thickness of 2.5 microns (0.0025 millimetres), gold plated pieces can be as little as 0.5 microns thick. Our vermeil pieces are marked with the 925 stamp to show the purity of the sterling silver base metal.

5 reasons why we love Gold Vermeil - 

  • Gold vermeil is perfect for achieving a high quality luxe look whilst being more affordable than solid gold. 
  • As gold vermeil can only contain sterling silver and gold and no other metals it is also a safe choice for people with allergies.
  • As gold vermeil is a layer of gold bonded to sterling silver it is natural for this to wear. But vermeil is much more durable than gold plating due to the thickness and is worth the investment. Treated with care it will last for years. Vermeil pieces can be re-plated, please contact us for further information.
  • Vermeil jewellery does tarnish but at a much slower rate than silver, when it does can be gently cleaned with soapy water and a dried very gently with a soft polishing cloth to look like new. Never use chemical cleaners on this fine precious metal.
  • Don't like yellow gold? gold vermeil is also available using rose gold. 

What is yellow gold?

Pure gold is a yellow dense precious metal and like silver in it's pure form is very soft and malleable. To enable the creation of stunning jewellery, pure gold is alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper and zinc to strengthen it.

Gold is measured in carats and pure gold is 24 carats, therefore you can easily work out the purity of the gold by dividing the carat weight by 24. For example:

22ct gold - 91.6% gold and 8.4% other metals, hallmarked with 916

18ct gold - 75% gold and 25% other metals, hallmarked with 750

14ct gold - 58.5% gold and 41.7% other metals, hallmarked with 585

9ct gold - 37.5% gold and 62.5 other metals, hallmarked with 375 

What is rose gold?

Rose gold is yellow gold alloyed with other metals such as copper to give it a lovely pink hue. 

What is the difference between rose gold, pink gold and red gold?

The difference is simply the amount of copper used to alloy. The more copper used the redder the hue. Pink gold uses the least copper followed by rose gold and lastly red gold which contains the most copper. 

What is white gold?

White gold is yellow gold alloyed with other metals such as silver or palladium. White gold is commonly rhodium plated to give it a brighter finish and extra strength.