How To Tell if Silver Is Real (5+ At-Home Tests for 2022)

How to tell if silver is real? One of those materials where it might be difficult to distinguish between authentic and fake is silver. If you’re not a professional jeweler or metalsmith, it’s hard to know what to look for to determine whether a jewelry piece is real.

So you buy a piece of glittering silver jewelry that seems to fit your style and bring it home.

how to tell if silver is real

What is authentic silver?

Authentic silver is a precious metal that’s used in jewelry, coins, flatware, and other metal products.

The chemical element symbol for silver is Ag, and its atomic number is 47.

What are the characteristics of authentic silver?

Real silver should have certain qualities that include:

  • Being a good conductor of heat and electricity
  • Being malleable and ductile
  • Having a bright, lustrous white color
  • Being resistant to tarnish

Types of Silver in Jewelry

There are several types of silver used in jewelry, but the most common is sterling silver. Sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper.

The “925” mark on a piece of sterling silver jewelry indicates that it contains 92.5% pure silver.

how to tell if silver is real

How to Tell if Silver is Real?

1. Check for the “925” stamp

2. Look for a “sterling silver” or “ss” mark

3. Inspect the piece for any discoloration, spots, or tarnishing

4. Examine the jewelry for any signs of wear and tear

5. Bend or twist the silver jewelry to see if it cracks or breaks

6. Hold a magnet up to the silver jewelry piece—if it’s attracted to the magnet, it’s not real silver

7. Use a nitric acid test kit (available at most jewelry stores) to verify the purity of the silver—if the nitric acid turns green, it’s real silver

8. Have a professional appraise the piece to be certain

how to tell if silver is real

How to test if Silver Jewelry is real

One of the quickest and easiest ways to test if silver jewelry is real is by using a magnet. Real silver is not attracted to magnets, but fake or faux silver is.

If you don’t have a magnet on hand, you can also use a steel wool pad. Run the pad along the surface of the silver—if it leaves a black streak, it’s not real silver.

If you want to be sure your silver jewelry is real, take it to a professional jeweler or appraiser. They will be able to verify the piece's authenticity with specialized equipment.

How to test if Fine Silver is real

One way to test if your silver is real fine silver is by using ice. Fine silver has a very low melting point and will melt quickly when in contact with ice.

Place a small piece of ice on top of the silver—if it melts immediately, it’s most likely real fine silver. If it doesn’t melt or takes longer than a few seconds to melt, the silver is likely not real.

Remember that this test will only work if the piece of silver is pure—if it’s an alloy like sterling silver, it will take longer to melt.

how to tell if silver is real

How to test if Silver flatware is real

One way to test if your silver flatware is real is by using vinegar. Real silver will tarnish when it comes into contact with vinegar, but fake silver will not.

To test your flatware, simply place a drop of vinegar on the surface of the silver—if it turns black or darker, it’s real silver. If the color doesn’t change, the flatware is likely not real.

Keep in mind that this test will only work if the piece of silver is pure—if it’s an alloy like sterling silver, it will take longer to tarnish.

How to test if Sterling Silver is real

The most common type of silver used in jewelry is sterling silver, which is an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals, usually copper. The “925” mark on a piece of sterling silver jewelry indicates that it contains 92.5% pure silver.

How to test if Argentium Silver is real

Argentium silver is a newer type of sterling silver that contains 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, germanium, or other metals. Unlike traditional sterling silver, Argentium silver is more resistant to tarnishing.

To test if a piece of Argentium silver is real, simply use the vinegar test—if the silver tarnishes, it’s real. If it doesn’t, it’s likely not real Argentium silver.

how to tell if silver is real

How to tell if Coin Silver is real

Coin silver is sterling silver that contains 90% silver and 10% copper. It’s called “coin silver” because it was often used to make coins in the past.

To test if your coin silver is real, use the ice or vinegar test—if the silver tarnishes or melts quickly, it’s likely real. If it doesn’t, it’s not real coin silver.

How to tell if something is silver plated

If you’re not sure if a piece of silver jewelry is real or silver-plated, there are a few tests you can do.

One way to test if something is silver-plated is by using a magnet—if the piece is attracted to the magnet, it’s likely silver-plated. Another way to test is by using nitric acid—if the silver turns green, it’s silver-plated.

How to tell if something is silver filled

If you’re not sure if a piece of silver jewelry is real or silver-filled, there are a few tests you can do.

how to tell if silver is real

One way to test if something is silver-filled is by using nitric acid—if the silver turns green, it’s silver-filled. Another way to test is by using a magnet—if the piece is attracted to the magnet, it’s likely silver-filled.

Methods of testing silver

Here are the various ways to prove that your precious metals are real.

What silver objects do these tests work on?

These tests work on pure silver, sterling silver, coin silver, and Argentium silver.

How can you test if your silver is real at home?

There are a few ways that you can test your silver at home:

1. The ice test

2. The vinegar test

3. The magnet test

4. The nitric acid test

5. The sound test

6. The float test

1. The ice test: Fine silver has a very low melting point and will melt quickly when in contact with ice. Place a small piece of ice on top of the silver—if it melts immediately, it’s most likely real fine silver.

2. The vinegar test: Silver will tarnish when it comes into contact with vinegar, but fake silver will not. Place a drop of vinegar on the surface of the silver—if it turns black or darker, it’s real silver. If the color doesn’t change, the silver is likely not real.

3. The magnet test: Silver is not attracted to magnets, but fake silver often is. Place a magnet on top of the silver—if it sticks, it’s likely not real silver.

4. The nitric acid test: Nitric acid will turn silver green—if your piece of silver turns green, it’s likely not real.

5. The sound test: Silver has a very distinct sound when tapped with a hard object—it will make a higher-pitched “ting” sound. Fake silver will often make a duller “thud” sound.

6. The float test: Silver is very dense and will sink when placed in water. Fake silver will often float. Place your piece of silver in a cup of water—if it sinks, it’s likely real silver. If it floats, it’s not.

How can I test if my silver ring is real?

You can use the tests above to determine whether your silver object is real.

What's the process for testing silver bars for authenticity?

Here are the steps for testing a silver bar for authenticity:

1. Inspect the bar for any signs of tampering.

2. Weigh the bar on a precision scale.

3. Use a jeweler’s loupe to inspect the bar for any hallmarks or other markings.

4. Test the bar with a magnet—if it is attracted to the magnet, it is likely not real silver.

5. Test the bar with nitric acid—if the silver turns green, it is silver-filled.

6. Tap the bar with a hard object—real silver will make a high-pitched “ting” sound, while fake silver will make a duller “thud” sound.

7. Drop the bar into a cup of water—real silver will sink, while fake silver will float.

Common FAQs

Questions from those testing silver plated items for real silver.

Should I use a rare earth magnet on my silver item?

Yes, a rare earth magnet will work to test if your silver item is real.

What's the difference between a sterling silver spoon and a silver-plated spoon?

A sterling silver spoon is made of pure silver, while a silver plated spoon is made of a cheaper metal coated in silver.

How can I tell if my flatware is sterling silver or silver plated?

There are a few ways to tell the difference between sterling silver and silver plated flatware:

1. Sterling silver is much heavier than silver-plated flatware.

2. Sterling silver will have a mark that says “sterling” or “925.”

3. Sterling silver will not be attracted to a magnet, while silver-plated flatware will be.

I found a piece of silver jewelry, and it's not hallmarked. How can I tell if it's real?

There are a few ways to test for real silver without a hallmark:

1. The ice test

2. The vinegar test

3. The magnet test

4. The nitric acid test

5. The sound test

6. The float test

If you don't have a hallmark, you can use one of these tests to determine if your silver is real.

Where does silver oxidize quicker?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as silver can oxidize in different ways depending on its environment. However, some general tips to prevent silver from oxidizing too quickly include storing it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and not exposing it to chemicals or other substances that could cause it to tarnish.

How to tell if silver is real with a lighter

If you have a lighter, you can test your silver with it by doing the following:

1. Hold the flame of the lighter close to the silver—if the silver turns black, it’s real.

2. If the silver doesn’t change color, it’s likely not real.

3. You can also use the lighter test to check for fake silver plating—if the silver turns green, it’s likely not real.

If something is made of real silver, it will turn black. Although, with a soft white cloth, you can remove the black film from the jewelry pieces you are testing.

How can I weight test silver?

There are a few ways to weight test silver:

1. Use a digital scale that is accurate to 0.1 grams.

2. Place the silver on the scale and weigh it—real silver will be very dense and will weigh more than fake silver.

3. You can also use a bathroom scale to weight test silver—just be sure to calibrate the scale first.

4. Another way to weight test silver is to use a known weight—if the silver weighs more than the known weight, it’s real.

5. Finally, you can also use a balance scale to weight test silver—just be sure that the scale is accurate and that the weights are calibrated.

To weight test genuine silver or silver coins, you will need a digital scale that is accurate to 0.1 grams, a bathroom scale, or a balance scale. Place the silver on the scale and weigh it—real silver will be very dense and weigh more than fake silver.

What is the polish test on silver items?

The polish test is a popular way to test for real silver. To do the polish test, you will need:

1. A soft white cloth

2. A small amount of silver polish

3. A small brush (optional)

To do the polish test:

1. First, make sure your silver is clean and free of any dirt or debris.

2. Next, apply a small amount of silver polish to the soft white cloth.

3. Rub the polish into the silver in a circular motion until the entire surface is covered.

4. If the silver is real, you should see a black film appear on the cloth.

5. If the silver is not real, the cloth will remain clean.

How much does it cost to get silver authenticated at a jewelry store?

The cost of silver authentication at a jewelry store varies depending on the store and the type of authentication being done. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $25 to $50 for silver authentication.

Favorite Resources

Our favorite resources are included below.

Job interview resources

Resume and cover letter resources

Job search resources

free interview question and answer full guide

Interview Question and Answer Guide (PDF)

Download our full interview preparation guide. Complete with common interview questions and example answers. Free download. No email required.

Download PDF
author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

Fact checked: Our small and dedicated team rigorously evaluates every article, guide, and reference to ensure the information is accurate and factual. Learn more.

Share

Help us by spreading the word