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How to identify silver or costume jewelry?

The popularity of silver jewelry is growing every day. Absolutely everyone can afford beautiful, durable and inexpensive products. In addition, it is known that silver has hypoallergenic and bactericidal properties. The demand for silver jewelry has led to the appearance on the market of a lot of jewelry made from low-grade alloys. It is quite difficult for an ordinary person to distinguish it from silver ones with the naked eye. We’ll talk about what to look for when buying silver jewelry below.

What is silver

Silver is a chemical element and metal with a silvery-white color. Its atomic number in the periodic table is 47, and its name in Latin is argentum (white). Silver is considered a noble metal because it does not corrode. In nature, silver exists both in free form and as part of other rocks. By its structure, silver is a soft, ductile, wear-resistant metal. It has high electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity. Silver is in demand in many areas – rocket and shipbuilding, electrical, electronics, photo and film production, medicine and jewelry. Scientists were unable to establish the exact date of the discovery of silver. The first mentions of this metal appeared among the Egyptians, who made dishes and jewelry from it. There was a time when silver was more expensive than gold. Today the main producer of silver is Mexico. It is also mined in Canada, Australia, Peru and the USA.

How to distinguish silver from jewelry

Of course, when buying silver jewelry from a trusted store, it is virtually impossible to encounter a fake. However, very often we bring silver from our travels or buy something we like at a flea market. In such conditions, it is very difficult to distinguish noble metal from ordinary jewelry. Therefore, the first thing you should do is ask about the price of the product. The very low cost should alert you. After this, the jewelry or other silver item must be carefully examined. The presence of unevenness, defects and chips will indicate handicraft production and low-quality metal. Next, you need to find a sample on the jewelry. It is usually placed in two places. Silver fineness can be of three categories – 800, 900 or 925. This mark indicates the amount of silver in the alloy. It is known that silver is very ductile, so various impurities are added to the alloy. To make sure that the item is silver, you can lightly rub it in your hands. Real silver will not leave marks on your fingers. If a black coating appears on your hands, then most likely the product is not silver or there is very little silver in it. But what there is a lot of is zinc. It is he who leaves dark marks on the skin. You can also distinguish silver from stainless steel by smell. Natural silver does not smell, but a stainless steel product will have a subtle metallic smell. Another sign that you are holding silver and not stainless steel is the thermal conductivity of the metal. A silver item in your hands heats up quickly, but a stainless steel item remains cold for a long time. You can check the decoration with a small scratch on the top layer. If there is metal underneath that differs in color from the top layer, then the product is clearly not made of silver. A regular magnet will also help you distinguish silver from other metals. Silver items will not be magnetized to it, but base metals will be easily attracted to the magnet. If it is possible to check the decoration of your home, this can be done using iodine, vinegar, chalk and other means. So, if you drop iodine on a piece of jewelry, the silver will darken, but the jewelry will not. As for chalk, they need to rub the product. Dark marks on a piece of chalk will confirm that the item is silver. Their absence will indicate that this is jewelry. Vinegar can also help you distinguish 925 sterling silver from stainless steel. It is poured into any container and the product is placed there. If it loses color and shine, it is clearly made of stainless metal. Keeping in mind the high thermal conductivity of silver, the item can be tested using boiling water. The product is simply placed in boiling water. Instant heating will indicate that the jewelry is silver. However, this testing method is not suitable for products with natural stones. If you suddenly become the proud owner of family silver, bought a cute trinket at a flea market, or received silver jewelry as a gift, it wouldn’t hurt to have the silver checked for authenticity. Fake silver is unlikely to make anyone happy, because, in addition to being an annoyance, low-quality metal can cause allergies. In this material we will tell you how to distinguish a silver coin from a fake, check the authenticity of your grandmother’s earrings and examine family cutlery.

How to distinguish silver from fake

Contrary to popular belief, price is not always an indicator of quality. Real silver is not as expensive as many people think. So, a simple ring can be bought for only 1000 rubles. First, you need to know how silver looks and behaves in its pure form. If your silver ring suddenly becomes very bent, do not rush to consider it a fake – in its pure form it is a very soft metal. Finding a hallmark will help you find out whether you were given a silver ring, as well as determine whether or not you got a silver spoon from your grandmother. Silver products sold on the world market must be marked with a hallmark – three numbers. According to international standards, silver must be marked with the numbers 925, 900 or 800. 925 hallmark indicates that the product contains 92,5% silver, and 900 and 800 hallmarks indicate that 90% or 80% precious metal. If there is no mark on your product, do not rush to get upset – it is quite possible that your jewelry was simply not created for sale. What other ways can you recognize silver at home? Let’s figure it out.


It is very easy to test silver at home using iodine. The main thing here is to be careful, since too much iodine can spoil the item. So, how to distinguish fake from real silver using iodine? Dip a cotton swab in iodine, run it over the metal and quickly wash off the applied composition. If the jewelry is really made of silver, iodine will leave a dull gray stain on it – the darker it is, the higher the standard. Don’t be afraid to ruin the item – if you wash off the composition quickly enough, the stain will soon disappear. If this is a fake, after checking it will have a white limescale residue on it.


Since real silver is not magnetic, this test will take you less than five seconds. Take any souvenir from the refrigerator and bring it to the decoration. If a magnet attracts it, this is a fake. If the jewelry remains in place, you can be sure that it is real silver.


  1. Lightly scratch the product with a needle and drop vinegar onto the scratch;
  2. If the scratch is covered with greenish foam, this is a fake;
  3. If there is no foam, and the scratch is covered with a white substance, it is real silver.

lapis pencil

Testing silver with a lapis pencil is one of the most reliable methods of checking at home. You can buy it at any pharmacy. To check, put on gloves and run a pencil over the jewelry. If after this a black stripe appears, the silver is fake.

Thermal conductivity

Silver has excellent thermal conductivity, so heating the jewelry can also serve as a verification of authenticity.

Dip the item in warm water or squeeze it between your palms to warm it up. After a few minutes, try placing an ice cube on it. If the ice begins to melt from the heat of the metal, it means that this is real silver.


Ordinary chalk will also help you recognize silver at home. Having almost the same properties as iodine, chalk can serve as an excellent assistant in safely testing silver for authenticity. Wipe the surface of the item being tested with chalk – if a black mark appears on it, it means the item is real.

How to distinguish silver from other metals

Unlike gold, whose yellowish sheen is difficult to confuse with anything else, silver resembles many base metals. Therefore, it is important to know how to visually distinguish white gold from silver, platinum or tin, so as not to mistakenly purchase a penny trinket.

The first thing you need to pay attention to if you need to distinguish silver from platinum is the size of the jewelry. Platinum is too expensive a metal to make massive rings or earrings from. Another sign is color. Silver jewelry has a grayish tint, while platinum jewelry is much lighter and has a white cast.

White gold is also easy to distinguish from silver. Silver, as mentioned above, has a gray tint, while white gold turns more yellow. In addition, silver items will be much less shiny than white gold items.

Tin is not very different from silver, so identifying the metal by eye in this case will not be easy. However, you can use the above method with iodine – if after applying the solution the metal turns black, then you have tin.

You can distinguish silver from palladium using nitric acid – it can be bought at a pharmacy or a specialized online store. Be careful and be sure to use gloves when working with acid! If you drop the substance onto silver jewelry, it will leave a dark mark. And if it’s palladium, it will turn red.

How to check silver at home for authenticity (video)

How to distinguish silver from silver plating

The easiest way is to find a brand. Silver-plated items are not branded because too little precious metal was used to make them.

If there is no mark on your item, you can carefully look at its shape and condition. If the item is silver plated, the coating in some places may have worn off or started to fall off – look for cracks and chips. Finally, jewelry made entirely of silver does not rust. If rust is noticeable on silverware or jewelry, it means that you are looking at silver plating.

How to determine a silver sample at home

As mentioned above, when determining the authenticity of an item, a three-digit stamp is your best friend.

If there is no mark on the product, you will have to arm yourself with knowledge of chemistry and go to the nearest jewelry store for a special chemistry set. The reagents from this kit need to be dripped onto the product and carefully monitor the color of the liquid. Compare the results with this table:

Color after reagent

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