Buying silver jewelry can be tough when trying to avoid fakes and scams. Silver jewelry continues to be a hot commodity, even beating out gold in 2017. With so much silver in demand, you need to know you’re getting the real deal.
There are a number of fool-proof methods to prevent you from buying fake silver or impure silver. Refer to this guide whenever you’re shopping online or locally.
The best silver jewelry will last you a lifetime, so take your time while shopping.
Too Good to Be True?
Real silver can be expensive. The average person will think that silver jewelry should be affordable because silverware is cheap. While sterling silver utensils might not seem that special, silver jewelry is another story.
Do a quick search for the current price of sterling silver. You’ll see that the price does not fluctuate as much as say gold or platinum. Therefore, you should not see big discrepancies in jewelry prices.
If you see a piece that you like at the jewelry store that is shockingly low, don’t hesitate to search for it online. You may not find the exact same piece, but you can get a good price range.
Watch out for huge clearance discounts and sales listed for most of the jewelry on display. If a store isn’t going out of business, then they shouldn’t be slashing prices unless they’re having issues selling them. That could indicate too many bad experiences from customers.
Don’t be afraid to interrogate, so to speak, the owner or seller behind the counter. If you want to learn more about how their jewelry is made, they should be able to answer any questions. Good questions include where they source their jewelry, what is their return policy, and if you can see their hallmarks.
These questions apply to both online and physical retail locations.
Silver Jewelry Hallmarks
As we mentioned above, hallmarks are identifiers that prove the silver is real. These are usually very tiny and tucked away in a corner on the piece of jewelry. The jeweler will need to use a special magnifying glass to make it legible.
When you zoom in on these stamps, it should say “sterling” or “.925” for the purity. Silver items cannot be 100% pure because the metal is very soft, like gold, on its own. It is usually bonded with copper for support.
The type of hallmark that you don’t want to see is EPNS. This stands for Electro-plated Nickle Silver. This is not silver; rather a nickel-plated jewelry processed to shine like silver.
This jewelry isn’t stainless, nor will it retain its exuberance for very long. Remember, don’t be too focused on style, or you may overlook these jewelry hallmarks.
Testing the purity of precious metals is very simple and won’t cause any harm to them. For silver, you can start with something simple: a magnet. Silver is not magnetic, so if you place a magnet next to it, it should not stick.
Magnets shouldn’t attract silver jewelry. If you see any movement towards it, then it’s not sterling silver. A nice, strong magnet will be able to detect any impurities in the jewelry.
Another great test is to rub the piece of jewelry on an all-white cloth. For this test, you are looking for black marks–this is good! Silver oxidizes from the oxygen in the air, this causes a black substance to form on the surface.
Think of how old jewelry or antique silver pieces look. The silver might look tarnished, but you can restore it to its original beauty.
This last test isn’t as obvious to the inexperienced, but it is worth trying. Take a metal object, screwdriver, etc. and tap the jewelry. The sound it should make should be high and lingering.
If the ring is very dull and doesn’t last very long, you have an impure piece of silver. It might be silver on the outside, but contain too much copper, nickel, or steel. Therefore, the jewelry could pass the rub test, but fail the sound and magnet test.
Online Shopping Tips
Judging a piece of jewelry in person is one thing, but trying to test out silver online is impossible. If you want to catch those online jewelry deals, you’ll need to be vigilant. Ideally, you should shop at stores online that have physical addresses, too.
Big name retailers like Amazon are good, too, but be aware of their third-party sellers. Most jewelry you will find on there will be from third-parties, so use caution. Read through a few pages of reviews, note the details in the description, and return policies.
Do your research, you can find some great bargains for real silver. Places like Simone Walsh handmade jewelry and other small businesses proudly sell high-end jewelry.
Search your area for local marketplaces and sellers, too. Buying local puts money right back into the community, which not everyone can do. Getting custom, one-of-a-kind jewelry feels great, too.
Get it Appraised
After buying silver pieces, you can always get it appraised to find out if it is sterling or fine quality. This would also be a good time to get any older pieces you have looked at. Appraisals are usually for a small fee, but you can get a good value if you bring in a whole bunch at once.
Look at for jewelry buyers, they often do free appraisals in the hopes of purchasing your old jewelry. These buyers aren’t interested in the jewelry itself, but the metals they contain. They won’t lie about the purity because they gain nothing from doing so.
Updating Your Look
As you can see, finding the best silvery jewelry is knowing what to look for. Jumping into any shopping decision without prior knowledge is always a gamble. It’s worth the effort because real sterling silver is such a timeless accessory.
Look at your wardrobe and think about how many different outfits you can pair with a nice silver ring, necklace, or bracelet. How cute does a silver anklet look at a woman? How impressive does a silver cufflink or ring look on a man?
After finishing this guide, you should take a look at our lifestyle blog. You’ll find tons of great advice to improve your life and those around you.