Sterling Silver Jewelry or Silver Plated? How to Tell the Difference

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sterling silver jewelry

Do you know the difference between real silver and a scam?

Of course, not everyone is looking to uncover a dodgy dealer when looking at whether their sterling silver jewelry is real or not. You might have inherited some pieces or been given them, and simply want to know what you’re going to be wearing!

But, unless you have a trained eye, spotting real silver from silver plated jewelry isn’t always easy. Luckily, we’re here to help.

Take a look at our guide to working out what’s sterling silver and what’s just plated.

What Is 925 Sterling Silver Jewelry?

Something you should be aware of before you start trying to identify pure silver from plated pieces is that there’s actually no such thing as pure silver jewelry. Silver in its pure form is very soft, which wouldn’t do for jewelry! Because of this, sterling silver is blended with other metals to improve its strength, such as copper.

Sterling silver is the purest form of silver you can get, containing 92.5% pure silver, leaving 7.5% for another metal. This is why you’ll often see a small 925 printed on jewelry that’s made from sterling silver, indicating it’s composition.

Spot the Difference

Whether you’ve bought cheap sterling silver jewelry or wholesale sterling silver jewelry and are suspicious of its legitimacy, or you’ve got pieces in your collection already that you’re not sure what they’re made of, it’s actually simple to spot sterling silver. Every genuine item should contain a hallmark such as 925, which won’t be on plated items.

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If you’re still not certain that your piece is genuine there are some other ways to spot the difference.

Color

If you own genuine sterling silver, it should be glossier but less shiny than a silver-plated item, with a slightly colder tone. If the color is uneven, appears to be flaking, or looks like it might be turning green, these are all signs that you have silver plated jewelry.

Cleaning

If you want a good test for your pieces, buy the best jewelry cleaner for sterling silver you can find. Clean your piece gently using the cleaner and a clean cloth, carefully buffing the silver. If you have genuine sterling silver, you should see a black mark appear on the cloth.

This is from the oxidation of silver, and you definitely won’t get it on a fake piece!

Acid Test

If you’re still not sure, carry out an acid test on your silver. It involves using nitric acid, so it’s best if you get a professional to do this! If your piece turns green when it touches acid, you know that it’s not genuine sterling silver.

If it is genuine silver, you’ll instead see a creamy-white color. These tests work for sterling silver men’s jewelry as well as women’s jewelry.

Know What You Wear

If you’re buying a piece of sterling silver jewelry, it’s nice to know that you could tell if it’s a fake. It’ll give you much more confidence when investing in a special piece!

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