How to Tell if The Jewelry is Made of Real Silver

How to Tell if The Jewelry is Made of Real Silver

by Mary Grace Tacderas

Before you use your silver jewelry to fight against vampires, are you sure that the jewelry you just bought or received from a friend is made of real silver? What are the things to check when purchasing silver accessories? Various jewelry shops today will claim that what they are selling is made of sterling silver. May it be an actual mortar and brick shop or online. However, with the advancement of technology and jewelry enhancement like metal plating and filling, while having a different base material will stimulate an actual silver metal appearance.

Silver

By Rock Currier

Argentum is a metal element characterized by a glossy white appearance belonging to the transition metal or Groups 11 (Ib) of the periodic table with copper and gold. These three were among the first metals used in jewelry dating back from the Ancient times. Considered as a precious metal used in the jewelry and electrical parts as a conductor. Silver is found almost everywhere, yet it is regarded as a small amount compared to other metals. Formed as a by-product of copper, lead, zinc, and nickel extraction.

History

Primarily used as money and jewelry in ancient times. It was deemed of higher value than gold due to the difficulty of extraction. It was only after the discovery of cupellation that the silver value declined. Cupellation is a process of extracting noble metals ores separating them from other metals such as lead, copper, tin, etc. Mined from the countries of Peru, Australia, Mexico, and some other countries are the top silver producers around the world. At present, silver used in various industries comes from recycled silver, while some are newly produced.

Myth

Ola10, CC BY-SA 3.0

When it comes to fighting supernatural beings such as werewolves, witches, and vampires, silver takes the crown. Believed to bring good luck when placed on in the bottom compartment of a ship.

Characteristics

Pure silver is soft ranking at 2.5 in the Mohs scale, white, inert, corrosion-resistant, high electrical conductivity, high thermal conductivity, and high reflectivity.

 Used

Bullion / Coins

 

Silver bullion has an ISO 4217 code, one of the four precious metals used as an international currency. Countries that mint silver bullion is Mexico, China, the USA, Canada, Australia, England, Austria, Russia, and Armenia. The standard purity of silver bullion is 99.9% except for the British silver Britannia, which contains 95.8% releases in 1997. In 2013, Silver Britannia was finally made of 99.9% of silver, following the international standard.

The earliest minted silver coin came from the Kingdom of Lydia in 600BC.
Silver Drachma was the currency used in ancient Greece in 1100BC containing 4.5g of 90& silver. Persians had used silver coins until 330BC even before the popular British pennies were made of silver. Another type of silver coin in England was called sceat, a small and thick coin made from silver displaying characters used by the Celts and Germanic marks.

Solar panels

 

Silver is the center in producing solar panels. Having the highest thermal and electrical conductivity than most metals, it is not surprising that each panel contains around 20g of silver. It functions as a conductor in storing and releasing stored energy.

Water Filtration

Water purifiers are mostly assembled with silver. Moist and wet places are heaven for bacterial and fungal growth, and silver prevents these from happening. Likewise, silver combining with the oxygen content in water acts as a disinfectant. Silver ions are mixed in pools, spas, and even hospitals' water systems to prevent legionnaire disease that lives on pipes.

Cutlery

 
By The original uploader was Rodolph at English Wikipedia

Sterling silver was primarily used in the fabrication of cutlery because of its inertness and self-sanitization ability. Gold was also used by the elites, for it is more non-reactive at a higher cost. Sterling and plated silver were also used in the fabrication of flutes.

Photographic films

The younger age bracket may not be familiar with photographic films used in photography and x-ray. Still, it was the only way to take images before the start of digital photography. Silver was used as silver halides incorporated in films for its affordability while producing accurate results.

Disinfectants

Silver is useful in the medical industry due to its oligo-dynamic effect, a bactericidal effect possessed by heavy metals. This is why silver spoons need no further sterilization, for it is able to disinfect itself. Silver containers were previously used by the military to store water to protect them from diseases. Some were said to use a silver coin on their wounds to prevent infection and increase the healing rate. It was Hippocrates who wrote about the use of silver in wound treatment. Silver sutures were even used at the start of the 20th century. The use of silver had declined when antibiotics were discovered. Modern medicine uses silver in the form of silver sulfadiazine for treating burns.

Colloidal Silver

Silverliving, CC BY-SA 4.0

Colloidal silver consists of microscopic-sized pure silver flakes suspended in a colloidal form. A colloid is a mixture of more than a single substance blended only on its physical form. The mixture may separate when stored for a long time.

Taking colloidal silver orally is rampant in holistic treatments to boost our immune system and is used in treating colds and was even presumed to treat and help with cancer and HIV. However, various health organizations have released statements that the claim is not supported by scientific studies. Silver, when taken orally, build up in our tissues that cause argyria. Argyria is a non-reversible, rare skin condition that happens when silver builds up within our body due to the prolonged use of colloidal silver. Soft tissues such as gums and skin will display a grayish-brown color to blue-gray. This happens due to exposure to sunlight comparable to what transpires with photographic films. 

Jewelry

 
Hanay, CC BY-SA 3.0

Silver Jewelry from the late Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC)

Silver jewelry has been around since the ancient time. The most popular type of silver used on jewelry today is called sterling silver. This is commonly mistaken and linked with fine silver, though they have different silver concentrations. Other silver types are being used as a jewelry base that many people may not be familiar with. Here are some varieties of silver used in fabricating silver jewelry.

Fine Silver

Fine silver is not used as a piece of jewelry for pure 99.9% concentration; however, it would be negligent if it were not included in this list. Having the most refined quality, it is used as a form of currency and a country's reserve. Store in a state of bullion. It has all the inherent property of silver, such as hypoallergenic, inert, soft and lustrous, and many more. It is not used as a metal base for jewelry for its soft form that tends to lose its shape. Fine silver is therefore alloyed with other metal to share their hardness. It shall have a silver hallmark of 0.999 or 0.999FS.

Sterling Silver

Made up of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, sterling silver is the most utilized form of silver in the jewelry industry. Originating in the 12th century in Germany standardized by King Henry the second with a ratio of eleven ounces, two-quarters pennyweights of silver and seventeen and three-quarters of alloy. Various pieces were made from sterling silver in Colonia America, from cutlery to accessories. The ratio was adopted by the American silversmith and hallmarked their silver jewelry pieces. The silver of choice for its durability, workability, hypoallergenic and impeccable luster. Hallmarked with a 0.925 or 0.925STG engraving. Although popularly known as a hypoallergenic base metal for it does not contain any nickel, some people may be allergic to silver itself.

Note that sterling silver from France contains 95% silver content. Therefore, you much check the silver content of your sterling silver, depending on its country of origin.

Argentium Silver

A brand of silver containing 93.5% or 96% of silver. Silver is alloyed with copper and germanium, which is the element making this variety more durable, hypoallergenic, and corrosion-resistant. Hallmarked with a flying unicorn, trademarked and patented by the Argentium silver company in the UK. It was a product based on research in 1990 on the study of the effects of germanium in alloys.

Nickel Silver / Alpaca Silver

A type of jewelry base that has no silver content at all. Also known under the name of German silver or Argentan silver. Instead of silver, sixty percent copper is alloyed with twenty percent nickel and twenty percent zinc, stimulating a sterling silver appearance. It is the affordable counterpart of the sterling silver used on costume jewelry offered at a lower price. These may cause skin allergy for its nickel content and will quickly tarnish. The upside is that it is sold in elaborately designed pieces impossible to make using sterling silver.

Silver-plated

A different metal base thinly coated with a layer of silver or silver-colored coat depending on the metal plating used. Electroplated silver jewelry does use real silver metal in coating a metal or alloy base, while ion-plated silver jewelry uses a chemical that stimulates the appearance of silver. E-plated jewelry has the tendency to peel its silver layer and has a short lifespan, while IP plated silver jewelry can last longer. These are offered at an affordable price used as fashion jewelry. The upside is that IP plated jewelry does not rust, unlike sterling silver that is affected by the sulfide content in the air producing black rust.

Silver-filled

A variety of silver jewelry that contains about ten percent of silver-coated thickly or thicker than silver plated accessories. Also used as a piece of fashion jewelry that tarnishes like regular silver offered at a much affordable cost than sterling silver.

Coin Jewelry

Legitimate antique silver coins are usually of high quality. Vintage silver coins are a rare find, stamped with a .900 silver purity.

Unmarked or Antique silver

An un-Hallmarked silver piece that was made from countries that do not require stamping or vintage silver pieces made before hallmarking was established. It is difficult to tell the quality of unmarked silver jewelry.

Marks and tests to use in determining the silver content of your jewelry

  1. Stamp / Silver hallmarks
 
By The original uploader was Mrs rockefeller at English Wikipedia

We have been talking about hallmarks and stamps, but what is a hallmark? It is an international standard for silver sold worldwide to be stamped based on its purity. Each country has its own mark and together with a distinct pattern of the jeweler.

Country

UK

Also called as the assayer's mark. United Kingdom's sterling silver is marked with a lion passant, a lion commonly seen in heraldry viewed as the king of beast. This is found in the royal arms of England and some other countries. 

Britannia silver is hallmarked with a 958 symbol.

Irish silver is marked with a crowned harp symbol.

Date

A letter represents the year when the silver piece was fashioned. Since there is only a handful of the English alphabet, some years are designated with an upper or lower case letter using different fonts, together with a shape or of the flag or the background shape.

City

Initially, a mark of the city where the silver piece was assayed, the rule was changed in 2013, giving permission for offices outside the city of origin to mark the work using their town's logo.

Maker

Silver jewelry makers must stamp their own unique mark. Initially, a set of initials using their unique brand logo was permitted since 2013.

France

France uses the symbol of Minerva for solid or pure silver. They also have a different standard for sterling silver. Number 1 contains 95% of silver, and number 2 contains 80% of silver. You will see the head of Minerva on your silver jewelry with a number 1 or a number 2 denoting the purity of your French-made silver jewelry.

French jewelry made primarily for export is marked with the head of mercury, together with a different set of numbers representing its purity. Number 1 for 92%, number 2 for 84%, and number 3 For 75%. Jewelry makers use their initial enclosed on a cylindrical shape engraving.

US

Unlike the previous countries who established a series of marking for identification, the United States only requires a mark or silver, sterling silver, or 925, denoting a 92.5% silver content. High –quality silver accessories are also needed to incorporate their company's US registered trademark.

Hungary

The Greek hero Diana with a crowned crescent moon, represents silver pieces made from Hungary. A five-petal flower represents 80% silver content, while a hexagonal shape denotes 90% silver content.

  1. Magnetism

Silver belongs to the list of paramagnetic materials that are weakly affected by strong external magnets. If your silver jewelry is strongly influenced by strong magnets and sticks to it snugly, your jewelry may not be made of high-quality silver. Likewise, in testing a silver plate, real silver will display a slow descent of the magnet rather than sticking to a specific location. The brake-like result is due to the electric currents created by silver.

Other non-magnetic metals to consider are aluminum, platinum, titanium, stainless steel, and zinc. A silver plated jewelry made from a non-magnetic metal base will pass this test.

  1. Ice test

Silver is a metal that exhibits the highest thermal conductivity among the metals and alloys. This test is best done on coin jewelry or other types of silver accessories with a flat and broad base. You will need an ice cube to facilitate this test. All you need to do is place the ice on your silver jewelry and observe its melting rate. Real silver will make the ice melt faster than a cube of ice placed at room temperature.

  1. Silver acid test 18K acid

Acids such as HNO3-nitric acid and HSO4sulfuric acid affect the silver metal. The acid used on this test is a mixture of nitric acid and muriatic acid, so caution is highly advised—garb defensive gear such as gloves and goggles for safety. To prevent any mark or stain your jewelry, it is advisable to also use a testing stone. Also called a black stone made of natural obsidian that may be used to test gold and silver jewelry. There are two ways to complete this test.

The first method is by directly placing a drop or two onto the surface of your silver. Wait for the solution to change its color and compare it with the color result guide. Note that this may stain the part where the acid solution was placed.

The second method is with the use of the black stone. Look or a hidden portion of your jewelry where a scratch will not show. Get your jewelry and scratch it on the testing stone, creating a clear white line. Use the acid solution by placing a drop or two on the white mark you made on the black stone. Wait for the solution to react. If the color produced is light-colored, repeat the process of rubbing your jewelry harder to transfer its metal on to the testing stone for a more reliable result.

Note that the use of acetic acid or vinegar will not give a reliable result.

A piece of silver E-plated jewelry will pass this test for the accessory is covered with silver metal. You create a deeper indentation and place a drop to test the inside of your silver jewelry.

Color result:
Bright red: 99.9% or fine silver
Dark Red: 92.5% or Sterling Silver
Brown: 80% or 800 Silver
Green: 50% or 500 Silver
Yellow: Tin or Lead content
Dark brown: Brass content
Blue: Nickel content
  1. Bleach test

We do not usually want our silver jewelry to tarnish but what we are looking to achieve with this test is tarnishing. This is an easy test to complete. Just add a drop of your household bleach to your silver jewelry. Wai for a while and observe for any tarnishing as a positive result for silver content. If no tarnishing is achieved, your jewelry may not be made of silver. Again, a silver-plated jewelry will pass this test.

  1. Physical test

The most basic test would be with the use of your eyes. If you are familiar with how a sterling silver looks like, this will be an easy test. Silver has a unique color that even alloy and white gold does not compare. A white and glossy metallic appearance that is not too glossy. If you have a perfectly polished or a perfect shine. That silver jewelry may not be made of silver.  Too perfect is always translated to fake objects.

  1. Sound test

Here is a test specific for silver coins, much like jade that has a specifying ring to them when clinked together. Vintage silver coins will produce a clear bell-like sound when clinched together. Coins with low silver content will produce a thumping sound like modern coins.

Now that you have a wide-ranging idea about silver and silver jewelry in general, it is time to check your silver accessories. These are just some tests that you can do at home. If you really want to know if your jewelry is made from silver, visit your local jeweler and let a professional deal in finding the truth about your accessory. If you are dealing with an unmarked silver piece, this does not automatically mean that your silver is an imitation. There were antique silver pieces that contained higher silver content than those marked. Likewise, even if your jewelry pieces have a stamp on them, this does not mean that it is authentic. In this day and age, imitation is made with high-technology machines replicating the original form. It can even make a piece of original silver jewelry look like an imitation to the untrained eyes.

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