How to Know if You Have Real Silver 

 February 28, 2022

By  Clark Pawners & Jewelers

Fine jewelry collection

Photo from Canva

Are you wondering how to know if you have real silver so you won’t end up buying counterfeit silver, other than going to a professional jeweler?

You fell in love with this shiny gray material that flaunts the beauty of the one wearing it, so you decide to buy your own set of silver jewelry. 

And now that you have your own sterling silver jewelry set, you want to be sure you bought the real one.  What should you do?

Look At The Mark Of Real Silver

coins with inscriptions of 999

Photo from Canva

The mark of pure silver is 999, which means it’s made from 99.9% pure silver.  Pure silver is too soft.

The purity of silver is generally expressed as parts per thousand; these are 999, 925, 900, or 800.  Although what you mostly find in the market is 92.5% silver which is called Sterling silver.

So, if you see a “925” inscription on any silver item, then it must be real sterling silver. 

Where Do We Find The Stamp Of Authenticity?

It depends on the country where it was made, but generally, most of the silver items that are for sale have one or more stamps showing their purity and the name or logo of the silversmith or manufacturer.  It is very small that you will need a magnifying glass to check the inscription.

Usual Inscriptions

Silver Ring– somewhere on the inside surface of the ring

Silver bracelet – on its underside or the side of its clasp

Silver flatware – usually on its handle

There are also other inscriptions on silver items. 

“Ster”  or “sterling” – means the silver content is 92.5 or very close to being pure silver.

IS -” International Silver” or  “Silver-Plated”

What Is Sterling Silver?

Pieces of 925 jewelry for sale

Photo from Canva

A Sterling silver item is hard and durable compared to 999 silver, a soft metal, which has a higher level of purity in the silver material used.

Sterling silver probably originated in Eastern Germany, from a town that minted their coins of 92.5 % silver, and they used these coins in their trade where they called them “Easterling Coins.”

This kind of material is 92.5% and 7.5% of other materials, usually copper, makeup Sterling Silver and is made of real silver.  This is the perfect combination of making jewelry withstand wear and tear and that silversmiths find durable and hard enough to be used by people.

In most countries, sellers will stamp silver as 925, 900, or 800.  Most of the silver items you find on the market are made of Sterling silver.  International sellers of silver will stamp these inscriptions on the silver materials.

Test Fake Silver With Acid 

You may test real or fake silver items by the Silver Acid Test to determine how much silver is in your jewelry.  

For example, it’s hard to determine if you have purchased a real silver coin, the silver-plated ones, or the real or fake ones.

how to know if you have real silver

What acid to use for this Acid test?

Testing silver is something we can all do even at home.  When we use chemicals like acid to determine the purity of silver, we are assured that this method we’ll be doing is more accurate testing than just doing physical tests,

For this test, the acid to use is a mixture of nitric acid and three parts hydrochloric acid called Aqua Regia.  This process is used to test higher purity through comparison and elimination.

Just drop a few acids on any part of the item, and it will reveal colors that mean something:

Dark Red means you have 925 silver, which is sterling silver.

Bright Red means it’s genuine fine silver

Brown means it is 80% silver.

Green means silver is only 50%

Remember, when your silver turns brown or green, they are silver-plated.   When different metals are used with silver, you will also discover they turn into different colors.

Do You Smell Something Fishy?

If so, what you may have is not a genuine silver material. Silver is odorless.  Yes, it is!

Go, smell your jewelry and do the odor test.  Do you smell something fishy? If you can smell sulfur or a distinct metallic fragrance, it only means one thing.  Your sterling silver is fake.

Silver Is Real If It Transfers Marks

Polish your silver ring, necklace or any silver object using a soft white cloth.  If your jewelry is real, it will transfer marks to the fabric.  This is called the Polish Test.

This happens because silver oxidizes when it comes in contact with air.  Then, it transfers to the cloth when you rub the jewelry with it.

Remember, if there is no black mark, it means what you have is not genuine. It is easy to tell if they’re real or fake, right?

Genuine Silver Makes A Ringing Sound

One of the easiest ways to test if a  material is genuine silver or not is through the Ring Test.  This method is ideal for testing silver items with flat surfaces if they are real or fake.

The Ring Test is done by rubbing silver with silver, against each other, and you hear a strong ringing sound.  And also, a silver coin, when dropped on a flat surface will sound like a ringing bell.

The Fisch Device To Tell Silver Is Real

With the Fisch device,  you just slide the coin in the device slot, and if the device tilts it means that what you have in your hand is not real silver.

Silver Is Real If It Melts An Ice Cube

ring on top of ice cube

You may opt for at-home ways to test silver, like the Ice Test.  Real silver melts ice cubes, particularly the part that the silver touches.  And you’ll find that out when you try this Ice Cube Test for yourself.

The Ice Test is a cost-free and straightforward test to identify silver that you can perform at home because all you need to use is an ice cube!

Place your silver jewelry on an ice cube, wait for a few minutes to let it melt, then remove the silver jewelry that you put on top of the ice cube.  Look at the part where the silver jewelry was placed, and you will notice that part melted, leaving the mark of the material.

The Magnet Test To See If Silver Is Real When It Does Not Stick

Silver is paramagnetic, which means it attracts weakly.  If you want to try the magnetic test you will find out more about this characteristic of silver.

You will see real silver repels when you let it slide down a magnetic slide.  A Magnetic slide is something that you can just DIY (be sure to use a strong magnet)  using pieces of rare earth magnet attached to something to hold it all together to form a slide.  

With a Sliding Test, you slide the silver material down to the magnetic slide, it will slide slowly, but it will slide still unlike putting other metals on the slide They will either slide down quickly or you’ll find that magnet sticks strongly on them. 

Silver is not very magnetic because it exhibits only weak magnetic effects unlike other metals like iron, cobalt, nickel, and more.

You may also use this magnetic test at home in testing silver bars.  Do this by setting the silver bar at a 45-degree angle and sliding the magnet down the surface of the bar.

Silver Density

Silver is denser than most metals.  Depending on the weight of the metal, it will have a corresponding diameter and thickness. You may check if silver is genuine or not.  You can weight-test silver.

If silver metal weighs less or is light, this means it is made of lightweight silver alloys and not of sterling silver.

On the other hand, if it weighs more, it could be made of lead and plated with silver.

The Soda Remedy

When you see the tarnish on the silver jewelry you’re wearing, of course, you’re bothered by it. You may try this quick and easy method of sinking it into a cup of soda.  After a few minutes, take it out, and wash it with lukewarm water.

If it’s authentic the tarnish will be gone.  But if it the tarnish didn’t disappear, then it may just be a silver-plated piece of the silver item.

Real Silver Does Not Tarnish With Bleach

Bleach Test will help you identify if your sterling silver is real or not.  Try dropping bleach onto your silver, you will notice that it oxidizes and tarnishes the part where bleach was dropped.

Now, with a soft, clean cloth, polish the part where you dropped the bleach, you will notice that its original shiny tone is back!  

The opposite thing will happen when your silver is a fake. After dropping bleach onto it, it has not tarnished.  This Bleach Test is very easy and uncomplicated.

Things You Need To Know

Why is silver a precious metal?

Second, to gold, silver is considered royalty regarding how elegant it makes somebody wearing it.

If gold is the LOUD one, silver is the FINER and more reserved type.  It accentuates beauty in such a simpler and pleasing way.

Silver is one of the most precious metals globally because of its many roles in many portions of our history. And also, from being a significant currency during the Age of Exploration, used during the galleon trade until it became a significant ingredient in the production of silver coins in the 20th century.

What does 935 mean on a silver ring?

Any silver item, like a ring, when it has a 935 mark on it, means that the material has a higher percentage of a piece of silver.

For every 1000 parts, 935 is pure silver, and 65 is copper.  This is called Argentium silver.

What are silver-plated items or fake silver jewelry?

A silver-plated item is silver that has been coated with other precious metals.  Plated jewelry items must undergo a process called electroplating.

Electroplating, in this case, silver plating involves dipping the substrate into a pool of silver ions.  Then, an electric current will be applied to the solution making the ions stick onto the surface, coating the material.  Then, what you have right now is silver-plated jewelry with just a thin layer of precious metal.

How much is pure silver worth?

A Jeweller inspects a jewelry in a shop

When a material is 99.9% authentic silver it is pure silver.   According to Cointrackers.com, the current price of Sterling Silver is $ 20.59 per ounce or $0.73 per gram. Pure silver, on the other hand, is $24.44. 

What is coin silver?

If the material has around 90-80% silver, it is referred to as coin silver.

Is sterling silver real?

Yes! It definitely is authentic silver!  But because fine silver which is 99.9% silver is too soft to be made for man’s use it needs to be alloyed to be used as jewelry and for other purposes.

So, you may buy Sterling silver and be confident that you have bought a real silver piece.

Silver In Solar Panels

Solar Panels at a foothill

Yes, solar panels have these shiny gray, famous metal!

Because silver is the metal with the highest thermal conductivity, it is widely used in solar panels.

In building solar panels, silver plays a vital role that 6% of the total cost of building the solar panel is attributed to it.  A panel that is approximately 2 square meters can use up to 20 grams of silver.

Fake Will Make Your Skin Green

Man wearing  a watch and is seated

Photo from Canva

Have you noticed that the jewelry you’ve been wearing for days causes your skin to turn green?  Jewelry made of low-priced iron, cobalt, copper, and other metals, can oxidize, which causes them to lose their original appearance.

So, now you know you have bought fake silver jewelry.

Visit Us Today at Clark Pawners

Whether you are buying or selling your silver, visit us today at Clark Pawners. We will help you get good value for your money whether selling or buying.

Clark Pawners & Jewelers is your trusted pawn shop in Chicago. We buy and sell jewelry, diamonds, gold and more, aside from offering cash loans.

Clark Pawners & Jewelers

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