Ever bought a fine piece of jewelry only to find later it wasn’t something you wanted? What’s worse, when you go back to the seller, you find a no returns policy, and now there’s absolutely nothing you can do.
Honestly, with the rise of online vendors, there’s more mediocrity in providing genuine jewelry.
The best way to avoid such scenarios is to know the ins and outs of your piece of jewelry. In this piece, I’ll be going through steps to understand whether a necklace is a real silver and ways to spot a fake silver vendor. So, sit tight as we strip down everything about genuine silver and it’s not-so authentic counterparts.
Silver Jewelry: What Is It?
Silver is an attractive precious metal perfect for jewelry and other uses as seen over the decades. While it is an expensive metal, it is not as expensive as gold or platinum, which fall in the same category.
Depending on where it was discovered, among other reasons, real silver has a couple of aliases:
- Sterling silver
- Tibetian silver
- 925 Silver
- Solid silver
- Scandinavian Silver
All these names represent the real precious metal, at least in its purest form. Unfortunately, there are so many fakes because it is hard to spot one unless with a trained eye. Sterling silver is known to compliment other metals and gemstones in making necklaces, rings, bands, bangles, etc.
Real Vs. Fake Silver
Luckily, for those of us who wear jewelry accessories, there’s a couple of ways you can spot whether the silver necklace you’ve bought is genuine. Some of these tests use the simplest ingredients at home, while others require a more scientific approach.
Not to worry, I’ll go through every step, and in no time you should be confident purchasing your silver jewelry. So, whenever in a silver dilemma, use the following tips to ensure your metal is up to standard.
Check For Hallmarks
If you’re going to buy real silver jewelry, then make sure there is some form of hallmark that signifies its genuinity. The most common marks include “S925,” “.925,” or “925.” But why 925? Well, all silver jewelry has a symbol of purity, and the most durable real silver is 92.5% pure. The remaining 7.5% is a mix of nickel or copper to make it stronger.
While hallmarks are significant markers of determining a real silver, not all sterling silver contain this mark. So, do not instantly assume that sterling silver is real by only checking the hallmark. You may find some handmade silver jewelry with no stamps or a “.999” stamp which signifies 99% pure silver.
Steer Clear of Silver Plate
Silver plating is a method of coating other metals with a thin layer of silver, allowing it to shine like real sterling silver metal. That said, it is common to find silver plated jewelry all over online stores and sometimes being advertised as real silver to unsuspecting customers.
The drawback with silver plated jewelry is that they tend to wear off after wear. You will notice patches of the real metal underneath as the silver plating wears off. Sadly, silver plated jewelry also poses a risk of skin allergies and rashes.
Generally, good silver has weak magnetic properties, and one of the best ways to test is using a strong rare-earth magnet, You can check your silver jewelry with magnetic materials and if it sticks right to the magnet, then it’s definitely not real silver.
However, take note that there are a lot of silver-looking metals that aren’t magnetic either. So, a simple magnetic test may not be the only indicator that your piece of jewelry is genuine silver. It is just one of the ways to check if your silver is not fake.
Chemical tests are the most accurate ways to check if your silver is counterfeit. There are a couple of ways you can narrow your silver items using chemicals. Just be careful while using these chemicals- most are harmful to your health. Also, some reagents like acids will quickly change the appearance of your silver item.
If you don’t really mind changing the color of your silver, then a chemical test would be an ideal method. Something like bleach will instantly change the tone of real silver to a darker color.
A popular chemical method in spotting sterling silver is using nitric acid. You can either do this at a jewelry shop or home. To do this test, remove all dirt and grime from your silver jewelry and place a few drops of nitric acid on a clean silver surface. If the liquid turns green, then the item is silver plated, and if it turns cloudy, it is genuine silver.
You can also use bleach to check the authenticity of your jewelry. Place a drop of bleach on the silver surface, and if it tarnishes once in contact with the bleach, then it is real silver. In general, when silver comes into contact with oxidising chemicals, it turns black.
The tests mentioned above are not exhaustive, and more ways are coming up that help one check if a silver item is genuine. One standard test is to check for the sound. An authentic silver item will produce a `ring bell ‘ sound when it hits a hard surface like counter, tabletop, or floor.
Copper or nickel jewelry (mostly used in making fake jewelry) produces a click sound and is not as resonant as the ringing of silver. You can do your own test using a silver coin and a copper-clad coin of the same weight.
You as well can evaluate how the piece of jewelry smells. Though this is not an absolute method, it may work in some instances. Genuine silver has no smell at all. So, if you buy any silver piece and you smell a bit of copper or brass, then it is definitely not genuine silver.
How to Spot A Real Silver Necklace Online
Now that you’re up to speed with indicators of fake silver jewelry, what do you do when the piece you want to buy is available online? Of course, you cannot do some of these tests without actually buying the silver jewelry first. But not to worry, there are hacks that help you know if a silver piece is genuine even in online stores.
Monitor The Price Of The Silver Necklace
An easy way to defraud fake silver jewelry is performing a simple comparison of the prices. Silver jewelry is a precious metal, and it will show in the price tag. To do a simple check, start by finding out the current market price for sterling silver. It will give you a rough idea of how much your silver necklace should be worth it.
Incredibly low prices may indicate a low-quality or even fake silver. Some companies will back their throwaway prices with huge sales and discounts. Watch out for those too! If the deal is too good…you know what to do right?
Talk to The Vendor
Online sellers may disguise their fake silver with an attractive description but will fail to mention if the silver is pure or not. They’ll often brand their products as “glamorous,” “top-quality,” or “highly durable.” While these qualities may accurately describe the item, they don’t tell you if it is sterling silver or not.
To be on the safe side, take your time to talk to the seller and ask up front if the item they’re selling is genuine sterling silver or silver plated. If the silver item is genuine, they’ll definitely tell you. A scammer will give you a dodgy reply or not reply at all.
Read Verified Customer Reviews
Lastly, most online platforms will have a feedback section where customers can leave a comment about their purchase and whether or not they were satisfied. If you’re buying on such platforms, just head over to the comments section and read through what buyers are saying. You can spot a fake silver necklace jeweler if most of the customers complain of the necklace turning green.
Check The After-Sale Policy
What does the online seller say about after policy? Are they willing to back their jewelry with an after-sale guarantee in case it’s not what you wanted? Most professional online sellers have an after-sale policy as they are confident with their product, which also makes you, the buyer, assured as well.
Genuine silver jewelry also comes with maintenance, and if the company offers services like free maintenance or limited warranty, then the silver item has to be genuine. I won’t mind paying an extra buck for maintenance if the silver necklace I’m buying is real.
As you can see, spotting real silver jewelry doesn’t have to be a nerve-cracking process. All you need is a few tips, and you can easily separate real ones from the fakes. One method to spot a fake silver necklace may not be enough, so you might want to prepare a checklist to be on the safe side. If you feel there’s something I’ve left out or would like to know more about your silver necklace, feel free to leave a comment below.