You’re looking for fool-proof ways to make sure that you’re investing your money into the real deal…pure silver. Well you’ve come to the right place. Of course, ‘fool-proof’ might be a bit of a stretch, the only way you can know with 100% surety that your silver is real is taking it to a professional, like a jeweler. But while you’re shopping around for your new silver piece, you should know the basic tests you can perform to make sure you’re getting pure silver.
1. Look for Authentication Markings
This is the easiest way to figure out if a piece of silver is real. All you need to do is pick up the silver and look for small markings. These represent the purity of the silver and the manufacturer. It could be just one little marking or a few but these are the best sign that the silver is authentic. If it was made by a big time international seller, it will usually have a number like 925, 900, or 800 to mark its authenticity.
2. Polish the Silver
When you go to inspect silver, bring a white cloth with you and use it to wipe the surface of the piece. If your cloth comes up with black or dark stains, you’re in the clear. Silver is a metal so the longer it’s unpolished, the more it oxidizes over time. The tarnish that builds up will rub off but it’s a great indicator that the silver is real.
3. Smell for Odor
Smell the piece of silver before you buy. Real silver doesn’t have a smell so if you can smell anything suspicious or metal-like, it’s a good way to tell that your discovery is fake.
4. Use a Magnet
Always bring a magnet with you when you go on the hunt for silver. Just like other real precious metals like gold or copper, silver is not magnetic. If you hold a magnet up to the piece in question and feel no sort of pull, that means you can bet that the silver is real.
5. Listen to the Silver
Now, this test will only work if you already have a silver item. If you do, then bring that item with you to test the others. Silver makes a nice ringing noise when it’s rubbed against other silver. Do your thing with the two pieces and if it sings for you, go ahead and add that piece to your collection.
There are some further tests that you can perform to check the validity of silver, but if you don’t own the piece in question yet we wouldn’t recommend these options until you do since they have the potential to damage the item if it’s not pure silver. Store or shop owners usually like to keep their wares intact until purchase.
6. The Flake Test
Some discoveries may look and feel like pure silver items, but look closer. If you can take a fingernail and flake away at the silver, take a look at what’s underneath. If there’s another metal or substance underneath then it means the entire piece isn’t pure silver. It was probably plated in silver which isn’t nearly as valuable.
7. Use Bleach to Oxidize
This is a play off of a test that jeweler's will do with acid to oxidize silver and make sure it’s real, but you can do it yourself at home with bleach. Since bleach oxidizes metal very quickly, you can add a drop or two to the surface of whatever item you’re testing and wait a bit. If the metal is turning black and tarnishing, it means the silver is pure. Just grab that white cloth you used earlier to polish your pure silver piece back to its original glory.
8. Grab an Ice Cube
To test silver with ice doesn’t do anything to the silver but we assume it would be a hard task to preserve the ice cube all the way to the item in question and you might get some weird looks from other customers or the owners, so it’s a better idea to do this test at home. Grab an ice cube and place it on the surface of the item. If it melts faster than it should, the item is most likely pure silver. Silver has a high heat conducting rate so it tends to melt ice very quickly. It may not be the most indicative way to test silver but in a pinch, it should do the trick.
Again, the best way to make sure that silver is real is always going to be to take it to a professional, but these tests are great to start to be able to recognize real silver on your own. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be a professional someday! And in the meantime, you can use your new skills to build up a strong collection of pure silver.
The easiest way to be sure your silver is real is to buy from a trusted source. Here at 7k, we always know the supply chain from mint to member and have testing in place along the way to ensure purity. In fact, we have most of the pieces we sell graded by professional 3rd party coin graders. We do this for a few reasons: to verify that our suppliers are selling us only the highest quality silver, and to pass that assurance on to our members. Coin grading protects the integrity and value of your collectibles and your good name. It also increases your opportunities to sell your coins on the secondary market.