Picture this: You walk by your favorite jewelry showroom and a silver chain catches your eye. But you’re hesitating to go in and buy the chain.
Why’s this? It’s because you’re wondering how to tell if a silver chain is real.
Counterfeit silver is more common than you would think.
Many counterfeiters focus on making fake silver bullion, which gets used for your silver chain.
Gullible shoppers often end up getting ripped off for poor-quality silver jewelry. Without thinking, you can lose a king’s ransom over a peasant’s assets.
Here’s how to spot if a silver chain is real:
It’s From a Credible Jeweler
When shopping for a silver chain, you have to choose a credible jeweler. These are renowned retailers who take care in inspecting every jewelry item in their stock.
For example, look at the silver chains from Dreamland Jewelry: https://www.dreamlandjewelry.com/pages/sterling-silver-chains
These silver chains all contain at least 90% silver content. For sterling silver chains, you’ll have 92.5% of silver.
For the latter, you’ll see an inscription indicating that it’s sterling silver.
One should always avoid buying silver chains from other individuals or lesser-known retailers.
If this is your only option, you should request a Certificate of Authenticity for the silver.
For best results, always buy your silver chains from a credible jeweler. You can research the jeweler online to see if there are any experiences with fake jewelry.
Make sure you also ask your network about their favorite jewelers.
Once you find a great jeweler for yourself, stick to this jeweler for your silver chains and more!
The Magnet Test
One test on how to tell if a chain is real is by placing a magnet on the chain. If the magnet sticks, the silver chain isn’t real!
You’ll find that many fake jewelers will sell silver-plated metal jewelry. The coating gives the impression of silver but once it sticks to the magnet you know it’s fake.
However, you should also know that if it doesn’t stick then it might still be fake silver.
Use the magnet test as the first method for testing your silver chain.
The Ice Test
The next test is to test a silver chain’s conductivity. Silver has a higher thermal conductivity than any other metal.
Lay a silver chain on a counter indoors. Make sure the room is at room temperature or as cold as possible.
Then, place one ice cube on the silver chain. Within seconds, the ice cube will melt if the silver chain is real.
If it continues to remain frozen then the silver chain might be fake.
Tests for Jewelers
Now let’s look at tests that are best left to the jewelers. These can permanently damage a silver chain, so it’s best for testing prototypes or samples.
If you’re a buyer, you can ask a jeweler to perform one of these tests for you on a display item.
The first test is the bleach test. If you pour one drop of bleach on a silver chain and it immediately turns black, it’s made of silver.
Make sure you only pour it on one part of the silver chain. This way, you can easily clean off the black stain if necessary.
Another test is to use nitric acid. Make sure you wear gloves and eye protection. If you are doing this test in front of a customer, have them wear eye protection.
If you pour one drop of nitric acid on a silver chain, it’ll immediately change color if it’s fake. If it remains as is, then you’ve got actual silver.
A third option is to mix a solution of nitric acid and potassium dichromate.
Dip a silver chain into the solution and wait for a few minutes. If the solution turns red, then you’ve got a real silver chain.
Tests for Customers
As a customer, there are different tests on how you can tell if a silver chain is real.
The first test is to lift the silver chain to your nose. If you notice a metallic smell, then this is fake silver.
This is often the way to recognize jewelry that’s silver-plated but not pure silver. A pure silver chain will not have any odor or fragrance at all.
Another method is to inspect the silver chain up close.
Look at the craftsmanship to determine if it’s a high-quality silver chain. Is each link identical? Is the clasp firm?
If you notice dents or irregular shapes, then this is likely a fake silver chain. Counterfeiters often rush to create a “silver product” to sell as many as they can.
Silver isn’t the hardest metal, coming in quite low on the Moh Scale of Hardness.
However, silver chains are usually made from sterling silver. This type of silver doesn’t use lesser metals such as brass or nickel. As such, it’s a lot more durable.
Test out the silver chain in your hand. Does it feel fragile? If so, it’s of poor quality and it’s likely fake silver or contains low silver content.
Variants of Silver
As a final step, ask the jeweler about the variants of silver used for the silver chain.
The most common variants of silver used are:
- Mexican Silver — ranging from 92.5% to 99% pure silver
- Constitutional Silver — American silver with 90% silver. Silver chains from this material use American coins (except pennies) pre-1965
- Britannia Silver — British silver that contains 95.8% silver
- Argentium Silver — Argentine silver that has a purity of .932 or .960. This is the most scratch-resistant silver
- Nickel Silver — the poorest quality of silver. It doesn’t contain any pure silver and only get’s used for costume or kid’s jewelry
- Fine Silver — 99.9% silver. This can scratch easily but is popular among silver chains
If you find that the silver chains don’t use any of these variants, it’s safest to avoid them altogether.
That’s How to Tell if a Silver Chain Is Real
Now you know how to tell if a silver chain is real, you can make an informed decision with your jewelry shopping.
Make sure to find a great jeweler and then ask to inspect their silver chains. Ask them how they test their silver chains and if they can prove authenticity.
If you find that the jeweler is credible and that the silver chain meets your tests, you’re ready to buy!
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