A popular choice for small time investments in precious metals would be silver. Its price is very low, especially when compared to that of gold or platinum. Currently a troy ounce of silver will cost you around 28$, when you compare that to current prices of platinum and gold, which would be 1375$ and 1558$ per troy ounce, respectively, you can see how silver is great for someone who isn’t able to afford large sums of money that the big two, gold and platinum require in order to invest in them. Unfortunately next to this advantage that silver has, there’s another disadvantage, scams. Not only because of high popularity that silver enjoys, but also because it’s very easy to create silver imitations from base metals that are similar to it, or to create silver plating.
Anyone that would actually like to invest in silver needs to become familiar with at least the basic tricks of how to detect impostors, something that can be done quickly during the trade, that’s exactly where we’re gonna start and move on to more complicated tests, which are more conclusive. First thing that you need to look up would be the marking. Majority of precious metals, silver included, have purity markings on them. Most silver that’s in circulation out there is an alloy called Sterling silver, which would mean that it’s at least 92.5% pure. Because of that, on majority of real silver markings you’re gonna see words “Sterling” stamped on them, either that or numbers 92, 92.5 or 925. Depending on the item that you’re checking marking is placed on different places. If you are buying silver jewelery, marking should be located somewhere where people cannot see it, in order for it not to ruin the overall appeal of the piece. If it’s ring look it up somewhere on the inside of it, bullion bars and coins will of course have the marking on it’s face, since they really aren’t bought for their beauty, and of course bullion will have higher purity, it would fall somewhere in the .999 purity grade.
Be mindful of the price that the buyer is asking for, if it’s lower than what the market price of silver is then you can be sure that something’s wrong. Price of silver is the same everywhere in the world, and chances of you finding someone who’s in the position to ask less money for silver than what the markets demand for it are practically non-existent. Someone who does ask lower amounts of money is eager to sell it, because they know that even at lower prices, they will make money since what they are selling is only silver plating. Silver plating is the second most popular form in which silver can be found. Silver plate doesn’t have any kind of value, it should only be bought for personal use, not for reselling. It too is marked with words Plate and investors in silver will not be interested to buy it, maybe if it has collectors value, which is highly doubtful, so by all means when investing try to avoid buying plating, either intentionally or unintentionally. A handy thing to know in order to avoid silver plated items would that silver plating is more shinier than actual silver, in order for it to be more appealing to potential buyers. Real silver has a dull, lifeless color, which you should be able to detect, with time and practice at least.
All of the tests that we talked about up until now, even though they can be helpful, they aren’t really reliable. For example you might find older silver which was cast before the marking system was introduced, and since it doesn’t have any markings you would reject it as fake. The same thing could happen with silver that has a marking, the marking can also be faked, so the best thing would be to use some of the following tests.
Silver like almost every other precious metal doesn’t react to magnets. This could be used to eliminate a large number of fake pieces, because base metals that are used in the imitations will react to a magnet. Popular magnets which are used would be the so called rare earth magnets, neodymium for example, but there really isn’t any need searching for this type of a magnet, you could use any standard magnet, maybe a bit stronger in order to penetrate items which are more heavily plated. There are ways of how even the magnet test can be fooled, but it’s really not profitable at all to use it for silver because of low price that silver fetches, it’s a whole different story for gold, platinum and others that have a high price. To administer the test simply put a silver piece close to the magnet and see if it will be drawn to it, if it does, you know that it’s not silver.
Now onto something a little bit more destructive, the acid test. This test is as conclusive as the magnet test, probably a bit more, but it does have one disadvantage, the silver piece that’s being tested has to be slightly damaged. Damaged how, you now must be wondering. Well the way that this test is performed you need to scratch a small sample of it on a scratching stone and on that sample acid is poured. After that the acid will change color and you need to take the color chart which came with the testing kit in order to determine if the silver is really silver and even to get a ballpark figure of what kind of purity the silver has.
The ultimate advice to avoid getting scammed which has been repeated here numerous times would be to simply buy silver from reputed dealers, like us. Like we said, don’t be fooled by extremely low prices, because that’s how people get suckered in the most. If you can try to detect fake silver with non-destructive methods, that way you’ll preserve its value and in case of jewelery their beauty as well.