Silver Acid Tests
We remain convinced that the best ways to
ensure that you are buying true sterling silver jewelry
Ask a jeweler to teaching you how to
identify sterling and its imposters. Once you
get a sense of the color and luster of sterling, you
won't be fooled.
Buy from a reputable source.
Don't be a "price sucker."
Silver prices are set globally. If someone is
offering you sterling silver at a price that is
unbelievably good, then you are probably being
offered fake silver or silver plating.
approach is to use a silver acid test kit. These
kits are readily available (do a search on the phrase
"silver acid test" and you will find a number of
sources). Silver acid tests make use of nitric
acid. The problem with testing, however, is that
you have to damage an item to test it.
The procedure is simple. You make a
nick in a hidden spot on the piece of jewelry you wish
to test with a file or needle (also available for
purchase). Next, place a drop of the acid on the
scratch. The color that results will give you an
indication of the silver content of the item. Most
kits come with a color chart to aid in interpretation.
(Different testing solutions yield different color
The "reading" of the scratch results is a
bit subjective. You will learn if the jewelry
piece has silver in it, or not. You will also get
a general sense of how pure the silver is.
However, you don't get a number from these tests; they
won't tell you "925/1000 -- it's sterling!"
One piece if information you can glean
from the test, even without the drop of acid, is whether
the piece you are testing is plated or not. A
slight nick is enough to cut through plating and reveal
if that solid sterling jewelry you bought is really
sterling through and through.
Another approach is to take your jewelry
to a lab, have it melted down, and then assayed.
That, of course, has an obvious drawback! Again,
train your eye and then trust your own judgment.