Sterling silver has become a very common material that manufacturers use to manufacture jewelry. That is because sterling silver is durable, affordable, and has a beautiful appearance.
According to georgjensen.com, a sterling silver ring is composed of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, which are mostly copper alloys. Copper is preferred over other metals because of its hardness which contributes to strengthening the sterling silver jewelry.
Silver jewelry is prone to imitation because of its popularity. Some manufacturers want to rip from the very lucrative jewelry business by supplying counterfeit silver jewelry to the market. However, there are various ways you can use to know whether what you are holding is authentic and quality or otherwise.
Ways of Determining the Authenticity of Sterling Silver Jewellery
1. Find the silver quality hallmarks
Countries have various ways of marking their sterling silver jewelry. However, the United States’ generated pieces have the engraving of 925, .925, or 92.5 on them.
The 925 engraving is because sterling silver is a composition of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other metals. That is because silver only cannot be used to make jewelry. After all, they are too soft.
Therefore, you should be on the lookout for the marking. If you cannot see it, then the silver jewelry piece may most likely be fake.
2. Watching out for the term plated
A silver jewelry piece with the word plated on it simply means it is not sterling silver. It is most probably a different metal like copper, nickel, or another metal, with a silver coating, which will eventually fade.
3. Assess for any tarnish
You can do a general assessment of the piece by looking at the edges and surfaces of the jewelry. If you spot any form of tarnishing or any discoloration, then the piece should be subjected to other tests to clear the doubt. Novel sterling jewelry should be lustrous with no form of tarnish. Also, look at the state of the clasping to know if they are secure, but open easily.
4. Smell the item
Did you know that a genuine silver item is odorless? Now you know. To know if the silver jewelry you have is real, hold it up to your nose and smell it for some time. If you discover any strong smell emanating from the jewelry piece, then it most likely has too much copper or another metal inside.
It should be noted that 7.5% of copper cannot interfere with silver metal to the extent of it smelling. Therefore, if you have silver jewelry that produces odor, know it is likely fake.
5. You can test for oxidation
Pure silver or sterling silver oxidizes when exposed to air, because of the oxidizing element of oxygen. Therefore, to test for this, obtain a white cloth and cover the jewelry with it for some time.
If you unwrap the cloth and find black marks on it, the jewelry is most likely silver or sterling silver. However, if the white cloth remains clean with no stain, then it is most likely not sterling silver.
6. Test for magnetism
Silver being a non-ferrous metal means that if the jewelry piece you have gets attracted to the magnet, it is not made from silver, and is most likely made from extremely polished steel planned to appear like silver. However, this test is not conclusive and you may need to run some more tests to be sure.
7. Examine malleability
Sterling silver is malleable because silver itself is malleable. That means it can bend and can be molded into various shapes. Therefore, you can decide to bend the jewelry piece you have to see if it can bend. If it does not bend, then it is not sterling silver.
8. Try testing an object with an ice cube
Another way you can check if the jewelry you bought is made of quality sterling silver is through an ice cube test. The easiest way to apply this test method is on those pieces of jewelry that have a flat surface. You will soon understand why.
All you have to do is put ice on a flat surface of a ring, necklace, or bracelet, whatever you have, and observe. Only real sterling silver will allow the cube to melt quickly. The reason for that is the high thermal conductivity of this metal, unlike other materials with which manufacturers try to replace it imperceptibly. You can confirm this statement by later leaning the cube on a copper object and noticing the difference.
9. Test the quality with bleach
You will probably think “no way”. But, believe it or not, bleach can also help you find out if you have exactly the authentic piece you wanted in your hands. This is possible thanks to the chemical reaction that occurs in contact with the silver. If that reaction is absent, you will immediately know that it is not what you wanted.
Take the bleach you normally use when you want to bleach your laundry and put a few drops on your jewelry. In this contact, the silver should darken. The reason for that is the oxidizing substances that are in this product.
10. Weight test
The high density of this precious metal compared to some others can dictate the weight of the jewelry you bought. This will probably affect both the diameter and the thickness of the ring and can also be one of the ways you can conclude if the workmanship is authentic.
When you pick up a real sterling silver piece of jewelry, you will simply be able to feel its weight, no matter how small it is. Otherwise, a light feeling in your hands can be a clear sign that it is a light alloy. On the other hand, if the weight is quite significant, it can happen that lead was used in the production, which was later only silvered. Don’t forget to pay attention to the shine and the average temperature, because sterling silver can be noticeably colder.
11. Listen to the sound
It sounds amazing, but did you know that you can recognize quality by sound? The procedure is simple. Rub two silver objects against each other and if you hear a sound that is similar to the sound of a bell ring it will be an indicator that you have the right thing in your hands. If you hear a dull sound, like when you throw a light object from another metal, then that isn’t the quality you were looking for.
12. The price
And finally, you should really pay attention to the price. Low prices of jewelry can sometimes seem very tempting and make us think: “why would I give more money in that jewelry store at the beginning of the street when here I can get the same quality for much less money?” With such thinking, you will in 99% of cases make a mistake. The value of quality sterling silver jewelry is usually higher because it includes the skill of the craftsman. As you can see, nothing is as elegant as jewelry that is the work of a designer of top skills.
Rogue business individuals have pirated sterling silver jewelry and are producing poor quality and fake silver jewelry. Therefore, you can use the above procedures to determine whether the sterling silver jewelry you have is authentic. Always watch out for warranties and guarantees when purchasing sterling jewelry as they ease your mind so that you do not question them, but in reality, what you have been sold to is fake. Always test your piece or have it tested by a qualified and trusted jeweler.