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, 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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September 17, 20170 found this helpful

If it has a diamond shape with s in middle is it real silver

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October 28, 20170 found this helpful

So if it is tarnish dose that mean its silver I have old silver ware trying to fine out if its silver and if it is were Can I sale it at

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June 25, 20190 found this helpful

"Anything worth checking will have the word "sterling"" There were already "stamps" during the roman empire in Europe and beautiful old silver pieces are "stamped" with symbols only and no words or figure because for centuries, only a few had the ability and the knowledge of writing and reading. Before the invention of "printing" by Gutenberg nearly only the monks who were handwriting books knew to read and write and often in latin only. Even the kings did not knew writing and reading.


So all what would be called today "advertising" or customer information was made with symbol of animals or objects. The shops during the Middle Age in Europe were identify with sculptures of what they were saling and not with a written name. Some of the oldest and most valuable silver pieces do not have any writing on their stamps or only the initials of the makers. Animals are used on the stamps because they were popular images and could be identified by the majority. The animals used as logo to identify cars are the heritage of those times.

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June 9, 20101 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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April 28, 20170 found this helpful

Just because something looks like silver and tarnishes like silver does NOT mean it is solid silver. Silver-plated flatware tarnishes like crazy, but only has a few pennies worth of real silver in it.

If it is REAL solid silver (including sterling silver at 92.5%) it WILL be stamped as such.... either 'sterling' 'solid silver' or '925' are all legit.

Some countries like Thailand will mark their jewelry as being sterling but it will only be silver-plate. Italian necklaces are famous for have sterling clasps marked as sterling, but the rest of the necklace will be silver-plate. VERY sneaky!

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June 21, 20101 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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July 20, 20170 found this helpful

Silver tarnish is not oxide it is silver sulfide, silver does not react with oxygen under normal conditions

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