Sometimes jewelry made from low-grade alloys is sold under the guise of silver or white gold items. It is very difficult for a non-specialist to distinguish them with the naked eye. Shimmering radiance, cold tones, silvery-white color — there are no obvious differences in appearance. What you need to pay special attention to and how to understand that this is really white gold and silver — read in this article.
Checking silver for authenticity
Silver is one of the first five metals ever discovered. It was identified as early as 7,000 years ago, but it took people the next 2,000 years to learn how to separate this metal from the compounds with which it occurs. Because of the rarity of silver, the ancient Egyptians valued it more than gold! Only a few centuries later, new deposits were discovered in various parts of the world.
Since ancient times, silver has been used not only to create jewelry, but also to make coins and cutlery. This ore has the highest light reflectivity, so it has a unique glow. Jewelers say it is the whitest of the precious metals. However, pure silver is very soft, so various alloys are added to it for strength and durability. But in order to know how to correctly distinguish real silver, you need to consider that it must be at least 92.5% of the alloy in the jewelry.
One way to tell silver from an alloy with copper or iron is to wait. Fine sterling silver jewelry 875, 830 and 800 will darken over time because it contains more other metals that oxidize when exposed to air.
White gold does not occur in nature at all. This is a trademark designed to stimulate the purchase of products made of cold-colored metals. It is obtained by combining yellow gold with steel, palladium, nickel or platinum. It is their percentage that determines the intensity and brightness of the color of the ore. The admixture of any of the above metals makes white gold very durable. This ore is often coated with a layer of rhodium, which gives it the appropriate color and eliminates the golden sheen.
How to distinguish silver from white gold
In both cases, the jewelry has a silvery-white tint. Here are the main differences:
- Durability — White gold is more durable and scratch resistant. Silver is much softer and more prone to bending, making it less durable. Pay attention to the surface: any bumps, roughness, protrusions, illegible samples and marks should be of concern;
- color — this test takes a little practice and a keen eye, but silver has a more unique look and color that is difficult to reproduce flawlessly, so jewelry made of artificial silver or stainless steel, platinum or palladium differs in shade from silver. Those made from real silver are less shiny and have a cooler color, sometimes they can also be oxidized. The shade of white gold does not change even after many years of use, and silver oxidizes over time under the influence of air and darkens;
- 925, 750, 333, 375, 500, 960, 999 are reserved for white gold, silver is designated as 925, 875, 830, 800. Another way to mark 925 silver jewelry is to add to them the word “sterling”;
- the weight. An electronic counter is required for verification. Fake silver of good quality has a weight fluctuation of less than 1 gram, and jewelry scales have a reading graduation with an accuracy of 0.1 mg;
- smell. Natural silver and white gold do not smell at all, so if you smell a subtle metallic smell, you are dealing with jewelry made from less valuable metals such as copper, zinc or pewter;
- price — silver is cheaper than white gold. If the cost of jewelry is very low, this should alert. The price of jewelry can depend on various factors, including the size of the jewelry and the presence of precious stones in it. If it is much cheaper, it can be made from surgical steel or an alloy of cheaper metals.
Different countries use different signs. Jewelery weighing less than 10 grams is not subject to branding. They are usually marked “MET”, which means that the item is made of base metal and is defined as a layer of silver plating.
How to distinguish silver from a fake at home
To be sure of the actual silver content, run tests that require minor damage to the product.
How to distinguish a silver product from metal jewelry — you just need to file or scratch the top layer with a needle and see what is under it. If the material is yellowish or very different in color, it is clearly not silver.
If the color under the treated layer is silver, you should check the silver with iodine. You just need to drip on the surface of the decoration. If the shade does not change or a light coating forms on it, the film is a fake. Real silver will darken. You can also check the authenticity of silver with a material such as chalk. It should leave dark marks from interaction with this metal.
One of the most reliable ways is how to test silver by attraction to a magnet. He usually does not react to silver and gold items. But if they are made of base metals that imitate silver or gold, or have a low content of silver or gold, they will be attracted to the magnet.
To distinguish 925 sterling silver jewelry from stainless steel, you need to use a substance such as vinegar. To do this, put the product in a container with vinegar. If the gloss disappears or the surface color changes, it is a fake.
You can distinguish silver from aluminum with the help of some soft cloth if you rub the product with it. If darker streaks appear on the fabric, it is really silver.
Another option on how to distinguish real silver from products made from other metals is to pour over boiling water or dip it into boiling water. A genuine jewel will instantly heat up, like silver spoons that interfere with sugar in tea. But it is not recommended to lower jewelry with natural minerals into boiling water. This can spoil their appearance and strength properties.
A variety of jewelry is also made from cupronickel: rings, bracelets, earrings, pendants with gold and silver, with inserts of gems or glass. Sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish silver items from cupronickel, such a sign as a sample will help with this. The composition of cupronickel is indicated by the abbreviation “MSK”. You can also do the famous test of Archimedes. This method is based on the physical properties of precious metals. Its advantage is that it does not require any complex tools. If you know the weight and dimensions of a piece of jewelry, a bullion, or a silver coin, all you need is a vessel of water and a weight to test the density. You can take a regular glass of water. We need to calculate its volume. The result obtained is multiplied by the height of the vessel, the radius of its base squared and the Pi number (3.14). Then you need to place a silver jewelry in a vessel with water and check how much water has risen. Record the result in cm3. It remains to divide the mass of water by its volume. If the value obtained is about 10.5 g / cm3, then we are dealing with real silver.
If home remedies do not give 100% certainty, contact jewelers in professional workshops. They have the appropriate equipment and thanks to this they can clearly determine the authenticity of silver — acid reagents, x‑rays and ultrasound. However, these more advanced technologies are much more expensive, and their application increases the cost of the product. Therefore, it is best to make purchases in verified places where the seller offers certified goods and is able to present the necessary documents upon request.
The choice between white gold, silver and cheap jewelry made from its alloys is an individual matter. Both metals will appeal to lovers of elegant accessories in a cool shade. If you want a more noble and durable material, give preference to white gold. If you often change jewelry and choose accessories because of the low price, pay attention to timeless silver.
Buying products in the Silvers online store, you can be sure of their durability. We work directly with manufacturers and give each buyer the opportunity to choose accessories that match his taste and budget. On our site we offer only high-quality silver and gold jewelry. In the description of each product there is information about the sample of gold or silver, weight and dimensions. Thanks to this, you will acquire accessories that will last for many years and will become a real decoration of your image or a beautiful gift for your loved one.