8 Ways To Recognize .925 Sterling Silver Jewelry.

We explained what .925 sterling silver is and we dived a little bit into how to recognize .925 sterling silver. In this post, we outline 8 ways how to recognize .925 sterling silver jewelry, which you can use right away!

1. Hallmark Test

Jewelers mark their jewelry with sterling, 925 or 92.5 to let wearers know that a jewelry piece is made of authentic sterling silver. You may not have even noticed, because the stamps are usually small and in strategic places. Check the inside of the band of a silver ring or the backside of the clasp of a silver bracelet or silver necklace.

If a jewelry piece does not have any markings at all, the piece probably consists of a different metal. Keep in mind that silver-plated jewelry pieces can also have a hallmark to appear that the piece consists of sterling silver.

That is why we made a comprehensive list with multiple options, which you can use to tell if a jewelry piece is made of .925 authentic sterling silver. 

2. Tarnish Test

Real sterling silver jewelry tarnishes because it oxidizes when it comes in contact with air. You can check this by rubbing a jewelry piece with a white cloth. See if there are any black markings left behind on the fabric. If so, this is the tarnish you rubbed of the silver and is an indication that the jewelry likely is made of authentic sterling silver.

Do you not see any black markings on the cloth? Some, jewelry designers add a thick layer of rhodium (platinum) to the sterling silver to prevent the oxidation and to retain the shine.

3. Senses Test

The senses test entails asking yourself critical questions when you examine the jewelry;

  • Look: is the outside peeling? Is the color distorted? Does the jewelry piece consist of layers of metal?

Signs that a jewelry piece is not made of sterling silver.

  • Smell: does the jewelry piece smell funny or unnatural?

Then it's not sterling silver, because sterling silver doesn't have a distinct smell.

  • Feel: Does the jewelry piece feel bumpy, scratchy, sturdy or generally not smooth?

Signs that the jewelry could be made of a different element, as sterling silver is soft and bendable to a certain extent.

4. Water Weight Test

Determine the density of the object using Archimedes principle (compare it's weight to how much water it displaces). If it's at least 10x as heavy as water and non-magnetic, there is at least a chance it's sterling silver.

5. Magnet Test

The most common alloy used to harden sterling silver is copper, which is not magnetic. Thus, sterling silver jewelry is not magnetic. So if you place a magnet near a sterling silver jewelry piece, you should not see any movement.

If you have a piece of sterling silver jewelry with a .925 stamp that's attracted to a magnet, it's most likely a silver-plated piece consisting of a fairly chunk of iron, cobalt or nickel. However, keep in mind an piece consisting of stainless steel is not magnetic. 

6. Ice Cube Test

The ice cub test is the most inexpensive and most fun test of them all. Sterling silver is an excellent catalyst for heat. If you place an ice cube on top of your a sterling silver jewelry piece, the ice cube will start to melt more quickly compared to a jewelry piece made from a different metal.

Also, you can also check the temperature. If a jewelry piece feels much colder than it's most likely sterling silver because sterling silver transfers the cold of the ice cube quicker.

7. Hydrogen Peroxide Test

Look for a reaction when you place the jewelry into a bowl of hydrogen peroxide. The sterling silver jewelry should be fully emerged in the liquid. Hydrogen peroxide can be bought in most grocery stores.

Keep in mind sterling silver is a weak catalyst for hydrogen peroxide. If you don't see any bubbles immediately, allow the jewelry to sit in the hydrogen peroxide for about a minute or two and look for small bubbles forming around the jewelry.

Hydrogen peroxide won't damage the jewelry. Rinse the jewelry under cold water to remove the hydrogen peroxide. Wear the jewelry again when the jewelry is completely air dry.

8. Nitric Acid Test

A nitric acid test is the most reliable way to test if a sterling silver jewelry piece is real or fake. You can find a nitric acid silver test kite on online marketplaces such as eBay for just $ 4,00.

Lightly scratch the jewelry piece you want to test, and then apply a drop of nitric acid. Items that are silver plated will cause the liquid to turn green. A cloudy gray color will be seen in the liquid if the jewelry piece if it's sterling silver.
Wipe off the acid with a clean cloth and throw it away. Rinse the jewelry under cold water to remove any residual acid. Allow the jewelry to completely air dry before wearing it again.

Before you conduct the nitric acid test yourself, watch this YouTube video from Pawn Stars, explaining how you go about testing sterling silver with nitric acid.

We listed eight different ways how to recognize .925 sterling silver jewelry. Still in-doubt if a jewelry piece consists of authentic .925 sterling silver? Always ask an expert or your local jeweler for advice. Did we forget something on this list? Leave a comment below.

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