Silver or Silver plated? How to tell?

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Original Post

Calynette says

I just bought a piece in a second hand store... It seems the "silver metal" I thought to be metal is now silver because I put a magnet to it, and it didn't stick.... yay!, Now I'd like to know if this silver is solid or silver plated, is there any way to determine this? Thanks all!

Posted at 11:18 pm Feb 8, 2009 EST

Responses

Joyfulcrow says

Well without cutting it or abrading a spot down to examine its tough. Look for a 925 stamp somewhere, that may be a good start.Otherwise destructive testing somehow. Lots of metal is non magnetic. Sorry.

Posted at 12:53 am Feb 9, 2009 EST

take it to a jewelry store they can tell you. especially if you pretend you wanna sell it :)
otherwise, does it really matter?
-Chris

Posted at 5:39 am Feb 9, 2009 EST

not that I have ever done this, but you are supposed to scuff a small are of the item and put a drop of nitric acid on it - if it turns green its plated and if it turns gray its sterling.

Posted at 10:09 am Feb 9, 2009 EST

I was going to say all those things everyone else already has! Joyful is correct though, most metals are not magnetic. Usually, steel is the only one that a magnet will stick to. The other silver-tone metals like, stainless steel and nickel will not stick to a magnet.

Try using some silver polish on the item and see what color it turns then compare it to something you know is silver and something you know is say, nickel.

As for plate vs sterling, if there isn't a stamp, like others have said, you'll need to ask a jeweler.

Posted at 12:19 pm Feb 9, 2009 EST

Calynette says

The problem is, it's a handmade item, possibly this person bought these individual silver pieces without a "stamp " on it.... Kinda likes NITRIC's way of doing this with acid for a test... hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm isn't that what jewelers would do?

Posted at 2:03 am Feb 10, 2009 EST

Joyfulcrow says

Most jewelers wouldnt bother with it, and would likely take in other factors about its quality and its likelyness its sterling. it will take a bit of destructive testing to be sure. Nitric is very corrosive stuff. careful.

Posted at 2:26 am Feb 10, 2009 EST

The only way I've tested second hand stuff to be real is to put liquid flesh colored makeup on my hand (like cover up) and rub a line on it with the jewelry. If a dark line appears, it's real. But.. plating? It would probably be a little heavier than straight up silver, I'd imagine.

Posted at 2:38 am Feb 10, 2009 EST

Calynette says

k well, I luv to schlep through second hand stores.... there are pieces in there that no one has any history on or??? Tis cool to come up with gems in a dumpster.....

Posted at 2:41 am Feb 10, 2009 EST

Joyfulcrow says

DirtyAssSoaps says:
The only way I've tested second hand stuff to be real is to put liquid flesh colored makeup on my hand (like cover up) and rub a line on it with the jewelry. If a dark line appears, it's real. But.. plating? It would probably be a little heavier than straight up silver, I'd imagine.
******************
Umm. Aluminum will do the same thing. As will copper, or lead, or zinc. Silver is soft is why you get that line, the material rubs off on the abrasives in the makeup (silica) you can also do it on some paper as well. Not a reliable test at all, nor is weight alone.
And the difference between a plated brass base metal and solid silver would be difficult to compare side by side much less on its own.

Calynette, it is fun to go thru thrift type shops looking for treasures. A friend got a 3 thousand dollar emerald that way once for 11.00. The stamp is still the best way, as most stuff that is silver is stamped so. Otherwise I would look for tarnish searching for silver. Even if they polish it, sometimes in the little crevices it remains, and has that particular color that tarnish has. A general rule is that if its real poorly made it is more likely to be plated than if its well made. I know thats a judgement call, but you arent going to be able to do destructive testing on site. And most of the time one can develop a "sight feel" for such that gets fairly accurate with experience. Plating often has a look to it, particularly in the recesses and crevices that gives it away, a rough unfinished look, and also may show signs of wear thru too. Plus, you arent likely to get burned for too much $$ while you get a sense for what is real silver, making a mistake here and there.
Well, have fun.

Posted at 3:57 pm Feb 10, 2009 EST

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