HOW TO TEST SILVER
SILVER - A BACKGROUND
Silver is a metallic chemical element with an atomic number of 47
and the symbol Ag. Silver is a soft, white, lustrous transition metal,
it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest
thermal conductivity of any metal.
Silver is one of the most valuable elements next to gold.
Mexico is the leading producer of silver, followed by the United States,
Canada, Australia, Spain, Peru, and Russia. Silver can be found in nature in silver ore,
silver ore is a mixture of other metals including silver.
Jewellery and silverware are traditionally made from sterling silver
(standard silver), an alloy of 92.5% silver with 7.5% copper. In the US,
only an alloy consisting of at least 92.5% fine silver can be marketed as
"silver". Sterling silver is harder than pure silver, and has a lower melting
point (893 °C) than either pure silver or pure copper. Britannia silver
is an alternative hallmark-quality standard containing 95.8% silver, often
used to make silver tableware and wrought plate. With the addition of
germanium, the patented modified alloy Argentium Sterling Silver is formed,
with improved properties including resistance to firescale.
Sterling silver jewelry is often plated with a thin coat of .999 fine silver
to give the item a shiny finish. This process is called "flashing". Silver
jewelry can also be plated with rhodium (for a bright, shiny look) or gold.
SO HOW CAN WE TELL IF IT'S REALLY SILVER?
Precious Metal Testing Kit, Test For Gold, Silver & Platinum
Procedures For Testing Silver Using A Nitric Acid Testing Kit:
If you cannot find a mark or a stamp on the piece and you are looking for sterling silver,
it does not mean it is not silver, many countries do not require that precious metal items be stamped.
However there is a way to test it if you really want it and think it is worth the time and trouble to do it.
Silver can be tested with nitric acid, be careful as it involves using an acid which can burn the skin. To apply you make a tiny scratch on the item
in an inconspicuous place and apply a drop of nitric acid to the spot. If the spot turns a creamy colour it
is high quality silver, usually sterling. If it turns black it is coin quality silver and if it turns green
it has high amounts of copper and therefore is poor quality silver and a gold colour means a lot of brass,
it means this is a silver plated item.
Magnets are only attracted to ferrous (iron) materials, Silver is not magnetic. You can use a neodymium magnet (Rare Earth Magnet) for preliminary gold and Silver testing
To test for silver, you will need the following materials and tools:
- Black acid testing Stone that is washed thoroughly with water prior to each test.
- Silver Test Acid
Silver Test Acid is available from Star Struck, LLC as part of a Deluxe Gold Testing Acid Kit.
Testing For Silver
Place a drop of acid on the object to be tested.
90 to 100% silver, the acid will show a creamy color.
77-90% silver, the acid turns a gray color.
65-75% silver, then the acid will show a light green color.
If there are no visible markings on the piece of jewelry,
Testing for silver - Important Notes:
how can I test it to see if it's really sterling silver?
A chemical test for silver only tests for the "presence" of silver,
it does not test for plating. If an item's inner core is nickel, and it's
exterior is plated with sterling silver, the piece will test positive as
So, saying that an item tests positive for silver is not the same as saying
that it is "solid silver ". It means that where the chemical was applied, the "metal" for the test
was present, and it turned positive.
In another example, you can test a piece of jewelry to see if there is a
"presence" of 18k gold. If it is only plated, it WILL test positive if there
is 18k gold. This is because it reacts only with the 18k gold in the plating.
The ONLY way, to genuinely test a piece of jewelry that is not marked,
is to take a metal file and remove a top layer of metal in any area of the item.Be sure
to remove any plating material, and carefully apply the acid to this area below the plating
(without it touching the other unscratched area) and note the reaction.
A general rule of thumb for all professionals in the jewelry business is this,
If it isn't marked .925, .900, SS, S.Silver, sterling,12k, 14k, 18k etc,
then it is not. Bottom line, if it is marked, and in question, then test it.
If it is not marked, then 99.999% of the time it is not even worth the trouble
testing the item because it is not marked for a reason and that reason is because it's not a solid precious metal.