When you purchase a piece of antique silver, you want to make certain it’s a true antique and that it’s really made out of at least 92.5% silver. Some pieces may look like true silver, but they’re not. They’re simply pieces designed to look great but also be quite affordable. How can you tell if something you’re buying is really silver?
Here are four quick ways.
Look for the Mark
Silver should be marked with an assay mark that identifies it as pure silver. “Sterling,” “92.5” or “925” are required for silver made in Europe and other parts of the world. In the U.S., these marks weren’t always required for silver identification, unfortunately.
Silver makes a ringing sound if it’s tapped. This sound is easily identifiable to those who know what to listen for. You can carefully tap silver plates, bowls, and other items to get a bell-like sound that’s fairly high pitched. To inspect silver coins, tap them with another coin or flick them up in the air. Always be careful, of course, that you don’t damage the silver. Any scratch or dent will decrease the value of antique silver.
Does Ice Melt on the Silver?
Another trick antique silver buyers often use is the ice trick. Silver is a great conductor of heat, so if you put ice on it, the ice should instantly start melting. If you put ice cubes of the same size on a ceramic plate and on a silver plate, the cube on the silver should melt much faster. Just remember to dry the plate after you’ve done.
Polish the Piece
When you polish a piece of silver with a soft cloth, you should see some black marks appear on the cloth. That indicates that you’ve rubbed off some of the tarnish. If you don’t see this, it’s a good sign that the piece isn’t silver.