Silver is an attractive and sophisticated metal that would make a great complement to any jewelry collection. While real silver does not actually cost much, compared to the likes of gold, there remains a wide market for the sale of sterling silver, particularly among the younger consumers.
Unfortunately, to the untrained eye, comparing fake versus sterling silver can be quite a task — and sellers often take advantage of this lack of knowledge and sell fake versions at the price of the authentic ones. Your goal, therefore, is to find out how not to get duped.
Fake Vs Sterling Silver
How can you tell fake from sterling silver? Here are a few tips:
1. Real silver is stamped with a hallmark.
Like gold, authentic silver comes with a small stamp or engraving which contains information about its silversmith and the date it was made. Whether it is machine engraved or hand engraved is pretty easy to distinguish by just looking at it. A stamp that has ‘EPNS’ on it is an indication that it is sterling silver, as it simply means ‘electro plated nickel silver’.
2. Silver jewelry must be at least 92.5% pure silver.
Silver used alone is too soft to function properly as jewelry. Thus, all silver jewelry should be at least 92.5% pure silver, with the rest made up of appropriate alloys to help it harden. This is normally indicated by a “925” engraving on the jewelry itself. Of course, the lower this number, the closer it is to being less and less real silver. These engraving can be difficult to spot-look on the back of pendants, on clasps, and on the inside of rings for real silver markings.
3. Watch out for silver plate: Silver colored jewelry may simply be silver plated.
Silver plated jewelry, which is not totally real silver, would usually have an “A1” stamped on it, along with its makers engraving. When the silver tarnishes or chips off, it reveals the real metal used underneath, which can cause skin problems, like rashes and metal allergies, for some people. Beware of buying items that are simply silver plated, especially if your skin is hypersensitive.
4. Run it through a nitric acid test. A great way to test whether the silver jewelry you have is the real deal is by testing it nitric acid. You can choose to have this done by the local jewelry shop or you may do it yourself.
To do this, select a part of the jewelry that is least noticeable as the site to run your test. Rub this portion thoroughly to cause a break in the plating of the surface. Place a few drops of nitric acid onto the site and wait a few minutes. If the liquid becomes cloudy grey, then it is sterling silver; but if it becomes green, then what you have in your hands is simply silver plated.
Always keep in mind that there is no such thing as silver jewelry that is 100% pure silver. As mentioned earlier, silver has to be mixed with other alloys to make it sturdy enough to serve its purpose. The best way to ensure that you buy only genuine silver pieces is to purchase your jewelry from a trusted seller.