Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to check quickly if a metal is silver?

Silver testing  - How to do it.

Solid silver or silver plate?
If you are interested in buying silver antiques, the first thing to do is to check out the hallmark (A gold and silver hallmark guide is ideal for this). 

If the piece been produced in the UK, your hallmark guide will date it and be able to pinpoint the region of manufacture.

Understanding the hallmark is important because silver plate is also hallmarked in Britain and at first glance, the mark can look similar so you need to be careful. 

An item which has been silver-plated has only a thin coating of silver of just a few microns plated onto a base metal. By contrast, a sterling silver item is made of solid 92.5 percent silver throughout. 

The difference in value between the two is enormous although in some cases it may be difficult to tell sterling silver from plate silver by eye alone.

hallmarks guide

What if there are no hallmarks visable?

If a piece of metal has no hallmarks it may still be silver or at least it may have a percentage of silver contained within it. There are home silver testing kits available for this.

Silver testing is not a difficult process and can be carried out by a jeweller or simply by yourself at home, by using a silver testing kit. This is easy to use and will tell you if your candlesticks are silver or silver plate.

Silver jewellery – is it really silver?

Today, there is a lot of imitation silver on the market - especially with the explosion of cheap jewellery flooding in from the third world. Although many of this cheap “silverware” ends up on the counter at inexpensive jewellers and on market stalls, you can find it in better jewellery shops and often for much higher prices than it is worth. 

Testing your supposedly solid piece of silver with a silver testing kit will ensure that you are not being sold a dud!

Is that a real Rolex?

Fakes, such as fake Rolex watches – can also turn up in surprising locations. They can look pretty good but often it is the silver content, or lack of it, which is the first sign to spotting a fake. Use a silver testing kit to check if your 1920s silver Rolex Oyster is really what it appears to be. 

So what is a silver testing kit?

There are many kits available on the market to test all sorts of precious metals and they are easy to use. Silver reacts to nitric acid – the active component of the silver testing kit. When you test, try to pick an area on the piece that is not too noticeable because you first need to scratch the surface and then apply a drop of nitric acid to the area.

If the liquid turns green the item is silver plated. However if it turns grey, your item is silver.
Exact colouration will depend upon the kit that you use so you need to follow instructions carefully. 
You can use a small magnet will show if there is any steel content in your item. 

What is Sterling Silver
Is my rolex a fake?

How to date UK Silver