Is it Sterling?

There is often confusion about whether a 'silver' item is sterling silver or silver-plated. This can make a big difference in value, so it is worth working out which is which. 

Sterling Silver
Sterling silver is 92.5% silver. Most English and Australian solid silver will be sterling standard. English silver is required by law to be stamped with official hallmarks. This has been true for hundreds of years, so English silver will have a set of marks on it that will reveal it to be sterling. These normally include the Lion Passant mark. 

Australia has never had a legally binding hallmark system and most commonly Australian silver pieces will be stamped 'STERLING SILVER' or a similar abbreviation. 

European silver is often a slightly lower grade than sterling. It may be stamped 800 or 835 (which denotes the percentage) or have various hallmarks such as a woman's head. 

This is metalware that has a layer of silver placed over the top of a base metal. The two main types are Sheffield Plate and Electro-Plate. 

If your items say EPNS, A1 or EP they are silver plated.