Finding a beautiful piece of silver jewelry is nice because let’s face it, few things are more attractive than silver is. There are several types of silver, but most people look for sterling silver because this is a very sturdy type of silver that tends to last a very long time.
If you’re a coin collector or simply want to know if your coins or jewelry are really made out of silver, you don’t always have to take these items to a jeweler to get your answer.
There are simple ways to determine if something is real silver, and many of them are both simple and fast. If you’re interested in finding out if something is real or fake silver, try the following methods.
Some Basic Tests
1. The Ice Cube Test
This one is simple. If the ice cube melts fast when you rub it against a silver bracelet or ring, the silver is real. If it melts slowly, the silver is fake. The reason this works is because real silver is a heat conductor. This is one of the easiest ways to tell if an item is real silver because it only costs you one or two ice cubes!
2. The Ringing Test
How does the piece sound when you tap it against something? Does it produce a beautiful ringing sound or a dull and blunt sound? If it’s a pleasant sound and not dull, the silver is real.
3. The Magnet Test
If you rub a magnet against the jewelry or coin, it should slide right down the piece. If it does that, the silver is real. If it doesn’t do that but instead sticks to the piece, it is fake silver. Make sure you use a good-quality magnet for this test.
4. The Bleach Test
Place your silver coin or jewelry in some bleach. If it tarnishes quickly, it is silver. If it doesn’t tarnish at all, it’s fake silver. But don’t worry – you can easily clean your silver jewelry or coins once this test is done!
5. The Acid Test
If you place your silver item in some acid, look for the color it turns. If the color is either red or brown, the piece is real silver. Fake silver will turn either blue or dark brown. For this test, you should ideally scrape off a small piece of the item then place a few drops of the acid onto the piece.
Bright red or dark red means you have fine or sterling silver. Brown means the item is 80% silver, and green means the item is only 50% silver. If you get other colors, it means the item is made out of numerous other metals or is merely silver-plated.
6. The Fisch Test
Buy yourself a Fisch device, which measures the diameter, weight, shape, and thickness of the piece. If it passes all four of these tests, the item is made out of silver. If it doesn’t, it’s fake silver. You may want to buy yourself one of these if you’re a coin collector or regularly buy silver or gold items.
7. The Nitric Acid Test
If you have some nitric acid and place the item in there, you can check the color it turns afterward. Real silver will turn a creamy white, while fake silver turns green.
If you don’t want to place the entire item in the acid (which is a good idea), just file off a very small piece of the item and place a few drops of the acid on that piece. Make sure the piece you file off is in a discreet place so as not to ruin the look of your jewelry or coin.
Some Physical Tests
1. The Label Test
If there’s a label attached to your item, the first thing you should do is check it. Any wording such as “ster” or “sterling” means that it is a minimum of 92.5% silver. Anything over 92.5 is a good number.
2. Testing Bullion Cubes
If you’re testing bullion cubes, take two of them and hit them together gently. It should make a nice ringing sound. If it doesn’t, it’s a fake. This is a very popular method of testing bullion cubes because it is so reliable.
3. A Second Label Test
Look for the letters “IS” on your label. These letters stand for “international silver,” which is another way of saying it is silver-plated and, therefore, not 100% silver. Labels are required by law to state what the item is made of, making it simpler for you to find out for yourself.
4. A Second Magnet Test
Get a magnet that is specifically a neodymium magnet and tilt the item itself at a 45-degree angle. Then place the magnet on the tilted surface and watch to see if it slides down the item. If it slides down without a problem, the item is real silver. This is also one of the fastest ways to find out if something you own is real silver.
There are still other ways to tell if your item is real silver, and they involve going to a jeweler. Most jewelers will do these tests for free, so you won’t have to pay a lot of money just to get the job done.
They can check your coin or jewelry with a loupe, which is a jeweler’s device used to check for fine details in the item; a jeweler’s scale, because the weight often tells you if the silver is real or not; and an XRF analyzer machine, which uses X-ray fluorescence to determine the silver content of the item.