Pure silver has at least 99.9% of silver and the remaining is composed of other metals such as nickel and copper. Meanwhile, a sterling silver is composed of at least 92.5% silver and the remaining is made up of nickel or copper, though copper is mostly used. This is the reason why sterling silver is also called the 925 silver. Jewelers need to combine silver with harder metals to make silver hard enough for designing. If not, the metal is so soft that it will not allow creating of great design.
Although silver is cheaper than gold, this metal can still be found with fake imitations. Some merchants, on the other hand, sell silver-plated jewelries instead of real 925 silver jewelries. Silver-plated is only covered with a very small amount of silver. It will tarnish in the long run and is not as valuable as the sterling silver.
If you are planning to buy real 925 silver, it’s better that you know how to identify the real from the fake ones. Follow these techniques when doing that:
- Rub it. Use a soft and white cloth for rubbing the jewelry. If there are black marks on the cloth, then the jewelry is a real sterling silver. The reason for this is that real 925 silver oxidizes with air exposure. That is why silver jewelries tarnish in time and shows black marks when being polished.
- Use nitric acid. This kind of acid has harsh chemicals that will cause discoloration on non-silver jewelries. The discoloration is caused by the high copper content of the fake silver jewelries. You can ask the seller if it’s okay to test the jewelry with nitric acid. This should not be a problem for a merchant selling real 925 silver.
If you will do the nitric acid test yourself, it’s best that you wear goggles and gloves for your protection. Put on some drops of the acid on a not-so-obvious part of the jewelry. The part should turn creamy in color if it is real sterling silver. If it’s fake or is not a real 925 silver, the part will turn green.
- Attract it with a magnet. Silver, along with platinum and gold, is not attracted to magnet. So, if you try to attract that jewelry with a magnet, it should not be attracted if it’s a real sterling silver.
- Look for the marks. Sterling silvers are marked with “925,” “Sterling Silver,” or “Ster” on the clasp or any hidden area of the jewelry. If it has no marking, then it’s not sterling silver.
- Smell it. Real silver should not have any smell. If the piece smells brassy or copper-like, then suspect that it’s not a real 925 silver.
You can save a lot of hassles trying to identify whether that piece of jewelry is a real sterling silver if you purchase from a reputable seller. After all, reputable sellers offer their products with the same price or sometimes, even cheaper than other sellers. This way, you don’t have to worry if that jewelry is a real sterling silver because you are almost sure, even without testing the product.