There are a number of ways that you can tell if silver is real. This article looks at several of them. Although there has been a lot of talk and attention lately about the price of gold, silver is also valuable – and many gold buyers also buy silver (and platinum). Sterling silver is used to create a lot of different items that you might have lying around that you no longer want or use – from jewelry to flatware and more. But since genuine silver is a soft metal that must be mixed with metals like copper or nickel in order to make it durable, not all silver items are valuable. And just like with scrap gold, there is a lot of fake silver floating around in circulation, too. So how do you tell if your unwanted, broken, and bent silver is real?
In the U.S., the National Gold and Silver Marking Act went into effect in October of 1981. This law requires that metal is identified by both quality and maker, and sets out requirements for gold or silver markings that manufacturers must follow. The mark for sterling silver can be stamped with the word “sterling” or with a number that denotes the purity of the silver, like “92.5”or “925”, for example. The number refers simply to the fact that the silver is 92.5% pure, which makes it sterling. Where this stamp is located depends on the type of jewelry in question. On necklaces, bracelets, and anklets, you can typically find this stamp on the clasp. On rings, the stamp is almost always on the inside of the band. For flatware, look for a stamp on the underside of the utensil.
You can find nitric acid for testing silver on eBay for about $4 with free shipping. A search for "silver acid" whould bring it up. Because there is so much fake silver on the market, it is not always the case that an item that has an authentic-looking stamp is genuinely real. An acid test may be in order to determine if your silver scrap is real or fake. Lightly scratch the item that you are looking to test, and then apply a drop or two of nitric acid. Items that are only silver plated will cause the liquid to turn green. A cloudy gray color will be seen in the liquid if the item is sterling silver.
Using a light-colored, soft cloth, rub the item as if polishing it. Look at your cloth. Do you see black marks on the cloth? If so, then the item is more than likely real. Why? Real silver tarnishes and oxidizes when it is exposed to air. What you’re rubbing off is tarnish from that process.
Look at your silver items closely, paying attention to coloring. A real silver item is usually less cool in tone and not as shiny as silver plated items. Are there areas on the item that where the color appears to have flaked away? If so, then the item probably isn’t silver, or at least not sterling silver.
Letting Gold Kings look at your silver is a good way to get an idea of whether or not the jewelry is real. If you are looking to sell your scrap, we can tell you for sure if the item is authentic and what it is worth. If there is not a Gold Kings Location near you, we recommend that you diligently resear the gold buyers in your area. Call around and ask what they pay per gram before you go in. If they won't give you a rate over the phone, avoid them. Then if they do quote a rate, make sure that is what you actually get when you go in with no bait and switch pricing. Just a few minutes of calling and could get you a lot more money when you are ready to sell your silver.