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
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.
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!
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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I cleaned what I thought was a sterling silver toe ring. It is still very dull. Does that means it's not really sterling silver?
Suzi from Central TX
Usually real silver has a "hallmark". Look on the inside, you may need to use a magnifying glass and see if it might have a marking. I think perhaps it will be marked 925. (07/25/2006)
Post By karrie (Guest Post) (03/20/2008)
I have a silver tray and the only markings on it is DSL does that stand for something? Thanks(/quote)
Hi Karrie, I am also searching for the meaning of DSL on the back of my silver tray. I took the tray to an estate jeweler today and was told the tray is silverplate. (04/16/2008)
Typically, cheaper metals don't react with the copper the same way that gold or silver does, however this is not a fool proof method because a few other metals with create the same results. This test is better used to rule something out since if its gold or silver it should always leave a mark.
How much of a mark something leaves doesn't determine the quality of the metal being tested, as much as it is an indication of how much copper you have in your body, which changes frequently due to nutrition, hormones, etc. (07/08/2008)
I have a very old "silver" sugar bowl from the Dollar Steamship Line. It isn't marked with the words "sterling silver", but it says it's from the International Silver Co. It is also marked with the inscription 8OZ. Any help?
By David from south TX