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How to Tell if Something Is Sterling Silver

Despite all the recent talks about gold and its price that makes it earn lots of attention now more than ever, sterling silver also offers a unique value to its owners. But, how will you know if something is sterling silver or not? Here are a few tips that can help you determine if what you have is a genuine sterling silver:

how to tell if something is sterling silver

Check If There is Sterling or 925 Stamp

Sterling silver has markings that could be stamped with the term “sterling” or a number denoting the silver’s purity such as 925 or 92.5, for instance. This number pertains to how silver has 92.5% purity that makes it sterling silver.

The hallmark stamp’s location will depend on the specific type of jewelry piece in question. This hallmark is typically found on the clasp of silver necklaces, silver anklets, and silver bracelets. As for silver rings, you can almost always find the hallmark on the inner part of the band. When it comes to flatware, you can search for the sterling stamp on the utensil’s underside.

Acid Test

With all the fake silvers crowding the market right now, seeing a stamp that looks authentic doesn’t always mean that the piece is a real sterling silver. This is why there might be a need for a nitric acid test to determine whether you have a sterling silver or not.

You can easily buy nitric acid online at an affordable price. However, the use of acid for testing a product’s authenticity should be done in a safe way. If you really need to do the process, make sure that you apply the acid with extreme caution.

Theoretically speaking, a drop of nitric acid on silver plated products or any other low quality alternative for authentic sterling silver will change its color and produce a greenish tinge. Genuine sterling silver, on the other hand, will turn into cream color once subjected to an acid test.

To do this test, just scratch the item that you want to test lightly and apply one drop of nitric acid or two.

Magnet Test

The use of magnets is probably one of the coolest ways to help you determine if your piece is real sterling silver or not. If there are magnets laying around in your home, use them for checking the silver’s authenticity. Silver is paramagnetic and exhibits only weak reactions to magnet.

For this, you can use a strong magnet like rare earth magnet made from neodymium. You can bring the magnet near the silver item that you wish to check to see if will stick strongly to the magnet or not. if your piece sticks to the magnet, you will know that it is not real sterling silver.

Examine Your Silver Piece

Check your silver items properly and pay close attention to their coloring. Real sterling silver items often have less cool tone and are not as shiny compared to silver plated items. If you notice some parts of the item where the color seems like it flaked away, there is a big chance that the item is not real sterling silver.

Polish Your Item

Use a soft and light-colored cloth to rub the silver item as if you are polishing it. Check the cloth and if you can see black marks there, it means that your piece is probably real. Real silver will oxidize and tarnish once you expose it to air. With this process of rubbing, you are basically removing the tarnish on the piece.

Silver Spoon

Bleach Test

You can also use bleach to check if your sterling silver is authentic or not. All you have to do is apply a drop of bleach on your silver item. If the piece tarnishes after it comes into contact with oxidizing chemicals such as bleach, there is a chance that it is real sterling silver. Authentic silver will turn black once it gets exposed to bleach.

Ice Cube Test

One very easy to method to determine if you have sterling silver or not is to use ice cubes. It is an ideal method to test silver coins as well as other flat-surfaced silver items. With this, all you have to do is put an ice cube on a silver flatware or coin. Your piece is real when the ice cube melts right away. Silver is known to have the highest level of thermal conductivity. If you will put an ice cube on top of silver, its melting rate will be noticeably faster. Even though ice can melt at room temperature, this can melt faster if you place it on silver flatware or coin.

Weight Test

Compared to most metals, silver is actually denser. The metal’s weight will have a particular thickness and diameter. If a silver piece weighs less, this could be made of a lightweight silver alloy instead of sterling silver. If the piece weighs more, it might be of silver-plated lead. Pure silver is much cooler and shinier than silver-plated pieces.

Ring Test

The last but definitely not the least way to determine if something is sterling silver is none other than ring test. This test is very common and easy to perform. A pure silver piece can make a strong ringing sound rubbed against one another. This is why one of the best ways of identifying if silver is sterling or not is to rub them with another silver or metal item. If you dropped a coin on a flat surface, this should produce a sound similar to a ringing bell. If the sound it makes is dull, there is a chance that it has been mixed with other metals or elements.

Buy from a Reliable Store

If you are still in doubt and you don’t want to do the above tests by yourself, the best and easiest tip is to choose a reliable store with an excellent and established reputation for selling authentic sterling silver items. These trusted stores will do everything they can to give their clients an assurance that they will only be getting genuine sterling silver products and nothing less.