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Checking if a used chain is sterling


#1
    Hi all, While we're on the subject of chain; does anyone know of
a quick easy method to tell if a used chain is sterling? 

If you put your chain in question in a fairly strong nitric acid and
water solution, you will get green bubbles if there is a copper
containing base metal under silver plate. That more or less does in
the chain if it’s not sterling. Don’t leave it in too long, just
long enough to see what bubbles up, then rinse it thoroughly. Vent
the fumes or do this outside.

David L. Huffman


#2

How to tell if a chain, or anything else, is silver:

  1. Find a discreet place where you can file a tiny notch to break
    through surface plating.

USE GREAT CAUTION WITH ACIDS…PROTECT EYES, HANDS, ETC. AND HAVE
BAKING SODA AT HAND.

  1. Apply one drop of pure nitric acid HNO3 to the bare spot.

  2. Observe: If nothing happens, the metal is precious or stainless
    steel (unlikely), but most likely a silver alloy, if the chain looks
    silver. If the solution turns green-yellow-blue shades, the alloy is
    not sterling or fine silver. The reaction should be quite dramatic,
    and fumes are emitted, so, Don’t inhale! (I am going to forego the
    opportunity to make a political joke here.)

  3. If there is no reaction, you can safely assume that the metal is a
    silver alloy.

Hope that helps.

Alan Revere


#3

This may sound stupid, but doesn’t Sterling Silver have a smell?
Copper does, i know.

I know that after I hold the Sterling in my hands that my hands smell
metallic. But if I hold costume jewelry they do not have that same
smell.


#4

most plated or non-sterling chains are magnetic; some old rhodium
coated sterling ones can also be slightly magnetic, but they will
usually be marked ‘sterling’ or ‘.925’ somewhere -
ive


#5

Even if a chain is marked “Sterling”, or “.925”, don’t assume it has
not been plated. Many commercial chains are rhodium plated. I ended up
"burning" the plate on an otherwise simple repair. :frowning: I may consider
some sort of disclaimer in the future!

Dave

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)
dave@CarolinaArtisans.com


#6
    This may sound stupid, but doesn't Sterling Silver have a
smell? Copper does, i know. 

Sterling, if it has a smell, will most likely be due to it’s copper
content. Silver itself may in fact have a smell, but it must be
pretty subtle.

    I know that after I hold the Sterling in my hands that my hands
smell metallic. But if I hold costume jewelry they do not have that
same smell. 

Probably the reason you don’t get a metalic smell on your hands after
handling costume jewelry is that it is heavily plated, often in
layers of nickel, copper, and then gold. Some of it even appears to
have a chromium layer, one that is hard enough to dull a jeweler’s
saw blade.

By the way, I’ve noticed that some people can pick up the smell of
steel being heated in a forge, including myself. It has an
interesting peppery smell, quite pleasant, I think. Could be only
those destined to be blacksmiths can smell this? I can’t smell lead,
but I can taste it in the back of my throat, at which time I run like
hades in another direction. . . same with zinc.