There are few things more beautiful than antique sterling silver pieces. But if you're considering selling an antique silver piece from your collection, it's important that you determine whether it's pure sterling or if it's been plated with silver.
Are you ready to learn a few expert tips on differentiating between real sterling and silver plating? Keep reading for a quick education.
Why is telling the difference important?
Before we get into how to tell the difference between sterling silver and imitations, it's necessary to discuss why this is important. While sterling silver is not as expensive as other precious metals like gold, imitations can be found all over the place. Silver plated pieces are typically the most common source for this. And while silver plating looks passable as real sterling silver, it deteriorates much more quickly. This is due to a very small amount of actual silver content. As such, buying or selling a silver plated piece could be an issue if you're looking for true antique silver. It's especially an issue if you're paying a pretty penny for it without knowing it's simply plating..
How can I tell the difference?
Fortunately, there are a number of tests you can run to see whether the item you're interested in buying or selling is truly antique sterling or not. While polished silver reflects 95% of the visible light spectrum, the following tests may be a bit more useful in your determination:
- Magnetic Testing - True silver is not magnetic. So if you hold a magnet up to the piece you're examining and it's attracted to it, you're likely looking at a silver overlay. Either that or it's been made with less than 92.5% silver.
- Weight Testing - If you own an antique silver item of similar size, compare its weight to that of the piece you're testing. If they weigh about the same, it's likely that you're working with real silver.
- 925 Silver Testing - This is the simplest way to identify true sterling silver. A 925 imprint means the piece is composed of 92.5% pure silver. In that case, you're dealing with the genuine article.
Whether you're dealing with a sterling trophy or a silver tea set, understanding your metals can make all the difference when it comes to silver. Are you prepared to put your antique sterling to the test?