With more and more brands selling sterling silver jewellery, it is important to be informed as a customer on how to tell if what you are buying is real.
If you have not read our previous blog post about stainless steel and sterling silver, where we cover the basic properties of both metals which can be useful in helping you to make a decision on which metal is more suitable for your skin. [Read more: "Matter Matters: Sterling Silver vs Stainless Steel"]
First, let's establish that sterling silver is a precious metal. Made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% typically copper, to strengthen the metal for durability.
How to tell if it is real silver?
1. Look out for hallmarks
Sterling silver items are usually hallmarked or stamped with "925" to mean that it is made from 92.5% silver.
2. The Polish Test / Does it tarnish?
Over time, silver will oxidise. Brown spots start to appear on various part of the jewellery. This is because of the nature of silver and the way it reacts with moisture and sulphur present in the air.
Wipe your jewellery with a silver polishing cloth, black marks should appear on the cloth. If no black marks are present, it could be other kinds of metal.
If your jewellery is badly tarnished, try dipping it into a silver polishing solution. The oxidised layer should start coming off when in contact with the solution.
3. The Magnet Test
Like most precious metals, silver is non-magnetic. Take a magnet and put it near your silver jewellery, if it attracts, it can mean that your jewellery is made from other kinds of metal.
4. The Smell Test
Silver should be odourless, even though it contains 7.5% copper or other metals, it is not substantial enough to produce a distinct smell.