Real silver is gorgeous, especially jewelry made from it. However, sometimes you may purchase fake silver, which is not 100% pure. In that case, your body may have an allergic reaction to it or worse. How can you tell if silver is real or not? Let’s find out with some easy tips below.
How to Tell if Silver Is Real
There are six easy ways to tell if silver is real.
- Through magnets
- Odor test
- By authentic hallmarks
- Ice test
- Flake test
1. The Magnet Test
Silver is diamagnetic, meaning the magnet will slowly slide it down if you hold it at a certain angle. However, since it is semi-magnetic, it is a way to tell real silver from magnetic metals like cobalt, iron, nickel, and other rare metals.
This test is excellent for trying objects like coins, boxes, trays, plates, knives, and forks. Make sure to tilt them so the magnet slides down. However, doing it on carved or lumpy surfaces might be difficult.
Since copper and gold are not magnetic, you may not know the difference between them. In that case, do other tests to ensure what is silver and what is not.
2. The Polish Test
You might remember by watching old-time movies or hearing in history that the servants constantly polished silver. Given that information, we know that silver constantly needs polishing.
If you notice any black residue on your cloth after polishing, it indicates it's genuine silver. This is because silver oxidizes and tarnishes. If you notice a lack of oxidation or rust, it is made of another metal.
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3. The Odor Test
Genuine or sterling silver does not contain any odor to it. For example, if you smell the piece with a metallic or sulfur scent, it is not entirely made up of silver and is another metal. Overall, smelling the silver is a clear indicator that the silver is not fake.
4. Look for Any Authentic Hallmarks
Silver sold commercially is usually stamped with one or more authentic hallmarks that help indicate specific information about the piece. For example, these markings can tell you what date it was manufactured and any other relevant information needed.
International sellers will most likely stamp the silver 925, 900, or 800. If you purchase sterling silver, it has a 92.5% purity and another 7.5% metal alloy.
5. Test It on Ice
Above any metal alloy, silver has the highest thermal conductivity. However, you must have ice to conduct this experiment.
Place the ice on a piece of silver and watch it melt faster than regular metals, even at room temperature. Another way you can do it is by putting a piece of ice on a cooking pan or plate while placing another piece of ice on the silver. Afterward, see which one melts faster. If the ice melts quickly on the silver, it indicates that you have fake or authentic silver.
6. The Flake Test
Suppose you have silver earrings that eventually peel off and show another color. In that case, you do not have genuine silver but another metal type in layers of real silver.
Although the silver item looks gorgeous when you get it, it might not be worth the purchase after a few years or even months due to the peeling it shows. A quick test you can do is scratch it with your fingernail to see if another material is underneath.
Another test is to take a few flakes and put them in acid. The flakes are pure silver if the acid's color is the same. However, you can only do this test at the store, especially if you have not purchased it. In that case, only try it on the objects you have at home and be careful while using acid.
What Is the Vinegar Test for Silver?
Real silver will essentially turn black over time. The vinegar test for silver is placing a block (or item) of silver in vinegar and then leaving it there for 48 hours. Because vinegar contains acetic acid, it will tell you whether the silver is real or fake.
After a specific amount of time, a black residue will form on the surface of each piece, essentially showing us actual silver. This will also bring its shine back to life and be an excellent way to clean your jewelry.
How Do You Test Silver With a Lighter?
Using a lighter is another excellent way to tell if silver is genuine. It is effortless as you only lightly heat a small area with a lighter. If a dark, black stain occurs, it is authentic silver.
Test it with two matchsticks if you do not have any lighters on hand. Break one head off and place it on the silver. With the other stick, light it up and use it to light the head of the first step.
After the fire is out, check for any dark stains on the surface of your jewelry, silverware, etc. If you see one, then it is real silver. However, to make the stain go away, use a small amount of vinegar for polishing.
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What Color Does Silver Turn When It’s Real?
Real silver will turn brown to black over time but can always be restored to its original color. If it is fake silver, it will turn bright copper with a bit of green and orange. Doing so exposes the original metal showing that the silver was only a top layer, as mentioned above.
Silver is Unique in Every Way
There are many ways to tell if silver is genuine, like magnets, ice, peeling, and the others mentioned above. However, remember that if you are still trying to determine what is genuine and fake, take it to a silver dealer to help find out what you have.
We hope you have fun experimenting with any silver items lying around! You never know; you may find something precious lying around your home. We hope you have learned something new and wish you the best of luck in your silver findings.