Silver is the perfect metal for jewelry making! It catches the light like no other metal. Knowing whether your silver is real or not is important, especially for those with skin sensitivities. The different metals found in fake silver can cause a negative reaction. Silver has a high value in the market and usually will have a high price tag compared to other lookalikes. Here's how to tell if your silver is pure, sterling silver, or fake.
PURE SILVER VS. STERLING SILVER
Pure silver, also known as fine silver, has a silver content of 99.9%. This high purity makes pure silver too soft to use for jewelry making. Copper is added to pure silver to create sterling silver, resulting in making it more durable for jewelry making and less soft. Sterling Silver has a purity of 92%, the remaining 8% is copper or other metals (like zinc or nickel).
The additional metals in sterling silver make it more prone to tarnishing even though it's more durable than pure silver. The copper, zinc, and nickel react to oxygen and other elements in the air causing the silver tarnish.
FINE SILVER & STERLING SILVER MARKS
Fine silver is stamped with marks such as 999, 99.9 or .999. Sterling Silver that is made in the U.S. is marked 925, .925 or 92.5. Look out for these markings when shopping for your silver pieces.
TESTING YOUR JEWELRY
If you're having trouble determining if your silver is real or fake you can take it through various test for authenicity. The most precious metals are nonmagnetic. If a magnet sticks strongly to your jewelry piece then it has a magnetic core and is NOT silver.
You can also try smelling the piece. Sterling silver is odorless. If your jewelry has a metallic scent then it may not be sterling silver.
Finally you can try polishing your silver. Silver oxides and tarnishes, leaving behind a black residue on your cloth after you polish it. If there's no black residue, then it's not real silver.
Keep these tips in mind while you shop for your silver jewelry.