How To Tell Sterling Silver?

In today's market where knock-offs and imitations are rampant, it is challenging for buyers to determine the authenticity of sterling silver. Yet, have you ever wondered “how to tell sterling silver"?

Everyone wants to ensure that every purchase is of high quality and value. Therefore, in this blog post, we will guide you on identifying real sterling silver from fake ones so you can confidently make informed buying decisions.

Whether you're a novice buyer or an experienced collector looking for tips on spotting genuine sterling silver pieces, keep reading as we unravel the secrets behind this precious metal.

What Is Sterling Silver? 

Sterling silver is an alloy made of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% other metals. This combination enhances its strength and durability, as pure silver is too soft for everyday use.

Sterling silver is often considered the best option for jewelry making due to its balance of purity and durability. 

Experts believe the term "sterling" originated from the British pound sterling, which was the standard currency used in England since the twelfth century.

It was often used to describe high-quality silver coins or items. As time passed, the term "sterling" became synonymous with silver of exceptional quality and purity.

Today, sterling silver is still widely used in jewelry making, home decor, and cutlery. Its versatility makes it a popular choice for various designs and styles, from delicate filigree to bold statement pieces.

With the versatility of sterling silver, nowadays some people make fake products subtle so buyers cannot recognize their authenticity. 

This not only affects producer quality but also creates an unhealthy market. That's why people must learn how to tell sterling silver.

How To Tell Sterling Silver? 

When it comes to sterling silver, ensuring its authenticity is critical because it can have a direct impact on quality and usage. In this blog, we will guide you through the 10 most popular types of tests and methods to tell sterling silver.

  • Stamps & Markings

One of the most convenient ways to recognize real sterling silver is by looking at its stamp and marking. 

The most common stamps are "925," "Sterling," or "Ster." These markings can usually be found on the inside of rings or bracelets, the clasp of necklaces and chains, or the backside of pendants.

If you can't find any markings, it's most likely not real sterling silver. However, some older pieces may not have a stamp or marking, so you can try other methods to ensure their authenticity.

  • The Magnet Test     

The Magnet Test is also common for people if they want to check the genuineness of the products. Magnets do not have any effect on sterling silver, so if the item sticks to the magnet, it's likely not made of real sterling silver.

However, be cautious as some fake pieces may also be made with non-magnetic metals and still deceive buyers.

  • The Weight Test 

Another simple way for you to tell sterling silver you just have to put your products on the scale. Sterling silver is a dense metal, so it should feel quite heavy compared to other metals or plated pieces.

If you're unsure about the weight, try comparing it to a known piece of sterling silver or use a digital scale. 

  • The Sniff Test

You can tell sterling silver by its smell also. Real sterling silver should have little to no scent. If you notice a distinct metallic or chemical smell, it could indicate that the piece is not real sterling silver.

However, be aware that some plated pieces may also have this smell due to the metal underneath the plating. So, this test may not always be accurate and should be used in conjunction with other methods.

  • The Sound Test

This method may sound unusual, but it's a great way to tell if the piece is real sterling silver. Gently tap the item with a metal object and listen to the sound it produces. Sterling silver should produce a high-pitched, clear ringing sound.

If you hear a dull thud or a low-pitched sound, it could indicate that the piece is not made of real sterling silver.

  • The Bend Test

Sterling silver is a pliable metal, allowing it to be easily bent or molded without fracturing. To test this, gently bend the piece using your fingers. If it gives slightly and returns to its original shape, it's likely real sterling silver.

Avoid bending too hard or forcefully as this could damage the item if it is not sterling silver.

  • The Rub Test

Another simple test is to rub the item with a white cloth. Real sterling silver will leave a black mark on the cloth, known as tarnish. This is a natural reaction of silver when exposed to air and moisture.

However, be aware that some fake pieces may also produce this mark, so it's best to use this method in combination with others.

  • The Ice Test

This test is applied to test the heat-conductivity, involving placing an ice cube on the piece of jewelry. 

Real sterling silver will quickly become cold to the touch due to its high thermal conductivity. If it takes a while for the item to get cold, it could indicate that it is not real sterling silver.

However, it would be best if you were cautious when testing delicate or valuable pieces as this method may not be suitable for all items.

  • Chemical Testing Method: Nitric Acid Test

This is a more technical method and should be done by professionals. This test involves using nitric acid to determine the purity of silver. 

Sterling silver will not react or change color into creamy or creamy white when in contact with nitric acid, while other metals may fizz or turn green.

Be careful when using this testing method as nitric acid is a corrosive chemical and should be handled with care.

  • Professional Help

If you still have concerns after trying all of these tests and methods, it's always best to seek professional help.  

Bring the item to a reputable jeweler or silver specialist who can use advanced methods and equipment to determine its authenticity. They can also provide a certificate of authenticity if needed.

What Are The Differences Between Sterling Silver And Other Types Of Silver? 

Besides sterling silver, there are other types of silver used in jewelry making in the current market. Here are some key differences that you should learn if you want to purchase products that are suitable for your needs.

  • Fine Silver: A type of silver that contains 99.9% pure silver and is considered the highest grade of silver.
  • Silver Plated: A base metal (such as copper or brass) coated with a thin layer of silver.
  • Silver Filled: A thicker layer of silver bonded to a base metal, usually brass.
  • Argentium Silver: A modern type of sterling silver that is more tarnish-resistant due to the addition of germanium in its composition.

It's important to note these differences because they can affect the value and durability of a piece. So, next time you're shopping for sterling silver jewelry, remember these methods and use them to make the decision.

Price Of Sterling Silver   

After investigating several ways to tell silver’s authenticity and differentiating some types of silver, we’re sure that price is another aspect you are concerned about. This part will give you some basic information regarding real sterling silver prices that you can consider before purchasing your items.

Sterling silver is a valuable metal and its price can fluctuate depending on market demand and supply. 

The current price of sterling silver can be found by checking the spot price per troy ounce (~31.1 grams) on precious metal websites or through a trusted jeweler. Sterling silver prices can range from $20 to $200, depending on a variety of circumstances. 

It's also important to consider factors such as design, craftsmanship, and brand when purchasing sterling silver jewelry, as these can also affect the price.

Remember to always do your research and be cautious when purchasing sterling silver products at extremely low prices, as they may not be made of real sterling silver.  

How To Clean Sterling Silver?  

Upon knowing how to tell sterling silver and determining that your piece is real sterling silver, it's important to also know how to properly care for and clean it. Over time, sterling silver may tarnish or become dull due to exposure to air and moisture. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your sterling silver pieces

You can regularly wipe down the item with a soft cloth to remove any dirt or oils that may have accumulated.

Using a silver polish or cleaning solution specifically designed for sterling silver is also a good way to remove tarnish. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product and avoid using abrasive materials that could damage the surface of the silver.

For hard-to-reach areas, use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle circular motions with the cleaner.

Store your sterling silver jewelry in an airtight container or bag to prevent exposure to air and moisture when not in use.

By regularly cleaning and caring for your sterling silver, you can maintain its shine and quality for years to come. 


Congratulations, you now have a better understanding of how to tell sterling silver is real and how to properly care for and maintain it.

Knowing these methods and tips for testing and caring for sterling silver can help you make informed purchases and maintain the quality of your jewelry. Whether you're a collector, seller, or simply someone who loves wearing silver, it's important to understand the value and authenticity of this beautiful metal. 

So, next time you come across a piece of silver jewelry, put these tips to use and determine if it's the real deal!