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How Can I Identify Real Silver?

 How Can I Identify Real Silver?


Zied cleaning a silver filigree mirror at our Ariana workshop.

Zied cleaning a silver filigree swing mirror at our Ariana workshop. 

Genuine sterling silver is at least 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent alloy, usually copper, but some counterfeiters are sometimes able to make authentic-looking imitations by covering a less valuable metal with a thin top layer of silver. Here are three ways to make sure your jewelry is authentic sterling silver:


  • Test it with bleach: Silver erodes quickly when it comes into contact with bleach. If you silver piece fades and blackens quickly when you touch a bit of bleach to it, it’s authentic.

  • Test it for magnetic properties: Unlike many other metals, silver has no magnetic properties. Use a magnet to make sure that your silver piece isn’t magnetic.

  • Test it with nitric acid: Buy a touchstone and a vial of nitric acid, both available at jewelry specialty stores. Rub the surface of the silver piece with touchstone so that it leaves a small mark, and then apply nitric acid to the mark using the vial. Watch carefully what happens: If the mark turns green, that’s a sign that the piece is not real silver.