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How to Tell If Something Is Silver Without Markings?


What do you do when the jewelry gifted to you by your grandmother or partner doesn’t have any markings, yet everyone claims that they are silver? Many of us take the word of the jewelry seller to be the truth and live by these words, but what happens when you get an allergic reaction, and you cannot even determine the root cause because the jewelry is not marked? How do you take care of the jewelry pieces if you’re not sure what it’s made of?


Let’s face it – people will do anything to make money today, which is why there is a lot of counterfeit jewelry on the market today. In as much as you might like to save money, it’s important to be sure about what makes up a piece of jewelry before you spend the money anyway.


So, whether you’re interested in a ‘silver’ necklace, ring, or even a teapot, it’s important to know the exact material you are dealing with.


But before we check out ways of identifying unmarked jewelry (metal) as silver, silver-plated, or any other metal, let’s first look at some of the markings you should expect in legit silver.

Silver Markings


Ordinarily, jewelry, cookware, or any other metal items made of silver will have markings to show the same. For example, Sterling silver in the US has a 925 mark which shows that the item you are looking at has 92.5% silver. Here is a post that will teach you what is the 925 meaning and what stands for in detail.


The jewelry could also be marked Sterling Silver, the abbreviation STER, or it could have number markings. Silver number markings range from 800-950 which means 80% – 95% silver respectively.

How to Tell If Something Is Silver Without Markings

Now that we have the basics covered, here’s a look at some of the ways of identifying whether the unmarked item in your hand is silver or not.


1.The Magnetic Test


The use of magnets is one of the best and the most reliable tests for detecting whether the jewelry you just bought is made of silver or not.


For this test, you will need a strong magnet such as the rare-earth magnet made of neodymium.


Hold the magnet up to the jewelry piece.


Silver is a paramagnetic metal with weak magnetic effects. Given silver’s weak electromagnetic/ magnetic power, the jewelry’s attraction to the magnet should be minimal or non-existent. Therefore, if the piece marketed as Sterling Silver sticks to the magnet, you will know that you are not dealing with silver.


Note that silver-plated jewelry will have a slight magnetic pull, especially if nickel is the base metal. So, if the jewelry is unmarked and it has a magnetic pull, you might want to avoid it.

It’s also important to keep in mind that there are other metals that don’t stick to magnets and are not silver. Therefore, you should perform the other tests below in addition to the magnetic test just to be sure that the core material used for that item isn’t made from another magnetic metal.


You could also try the sliding test – the sliding test involves the use of a magnet to test whether you are dealing with silver or not.


For the sliding test, you need to angle one of the test items at a 45-degree angle and then slide your magnet down the jewelry piece/ coin. If the item is made of silver, your magnet will slide down slowly, while facing away from the bar.


Although this sounds counterintuitive given the paramagnetism of silver, the magnet slides off because the magnet (neodymium – rare earth magnet) will induce some electric eddy current in the test silver material and these currents act as electromagnets, creating a braking effect that slows down the magnet’s descent.


2.The Ice Test