How Can I Tell If Something is Made of Silver?

June 8, 2010

Silver tea set on trayI 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


May 10, 20134 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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May 16, 2018

I was hoping some kind person could help me. I have this tray, it probably is not worth much, but I can only hope lol. I have used a magnet on it and it does not stick.

I have taken a picture of the stamp and the tray. Identifying a Metal Tray - metal tray with recessed center and two handles

Thank you for your time.

Identifying a Metal Tray


Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
May 16, 20182 found this helpful
Best Answer

The silver content will be low as the marking shows:
Plateado - which means silver-plate in Spanish.

  • The size of the tray may make it sellable and some pawn shops buy silver plate if they sell to a melting company but not very much is paid for silver-plate if they are even interested.
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  • I would suggest you take it to one or two of your local pawn shops to see if they are interested in buying. Whatever they offer you will be a good start as usually you can double what they offer but it does not mean you can sell it for that amount.
  • You could also try asking for a free appraisal and maybe get more information. Be sure to give the measurements if you apply.

Nice looking tray - hope it is valuable.

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January 9, 2019

How can I tell? There are no marks.

Determining If a Brooch Is Silver - beautiful silver pin with an oval cast or carved purple center insert
Determining If a Brooch Is Silver
Determining If a Brooch Is Silver


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
January 9, 20191 found this helpful

Silver doesnt stick to a magnet. It also has a bit of a sweet taste.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
January 9, 20191 found this helpful

I take my jewelry to Treasure Hunt and they have a machine that tells the metal composition of the item. They do not charge for this service and will tell you what it is worth if they purchase.


I have learned the hard way that even items that are marked (usually 925. sterling, 95, etc.) sometimes are not real and some unmarked items are real.

There are also kits you can buy on Amazon or other sites to do at home acid tests. I don't like that method because it can damage the piece if you don't do it right.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 107 Posts
January 10, 20190 found this helpful

real silver gets tarnished, or black. If it has this it may well be silver

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August 23, 20210 found this helpful

So does silverplate

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

June 8, 2010

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.

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November 5, 2009

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?

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