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How Can I Tell If Something is Made of Silver

I have heard that a sure way of checking whether an item has silver in it is by seeing if it will stick to a magnet when you touch the item. Is this true?

By Kathy from Tempe, AZ

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May 10, 20130 found this helpful
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There are over 800 metals out there that a magnet will not stick to, so this is NOT the way to go. The law of the .925 stamp wasnt around when silver was popular from the 1860's to 1940's. Tarnishing is a sure fire method but not everyone has what they need on hand to test this method. Anything that has the words "plated" or "community" isnt real silver. Also markings like "xxs" "IS" or "co." Are not real.

Anything worth checking will have the word "sterling" but still not always real. Also really old silver will usually have random capatilized letters engraved in squares, standing for the country, year and ect the silver originated from. But a lion on its hind legs facing to the right is your best chances at "pure" silver. Even though "pure" silver is actually only .999%

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June 9, 20100 found this helpful

Silver will not stick to a magnet, but just because it doesn't stick, doesn't mean it is silver. It could also be copper or aluminum or zinc or some sort of alloy that does not contain iron. Steel and iron stick to a magnet. More things DON'T stick than do.

Silver tarnishes. That is one way to determine if an item is silver.

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June 21, 20100 found this helpful

Silver oxide (the tarnish on silver) has a distinct odor & I have used that "test" to determine if a thrift shop item is silver. (You can also look for a hallmark that says "sterling", but all items won't have them.) You also have to remember that there are items that are merely silver-plated (Trays, platters, sugar bowls and so on). Treat those items gently, because too much polishing will rub away the silver & expose the base metal beneath!

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