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How to tell if it's sterling silver

I recently bought what is advertised as sterling silver chain,
handmade in Bali. It was oxidized, which I’ve been trying to remove
with my Sparex pickle solution, which is how I remove firescale on my
other sterling pieces. However, I can’t seem to get this chain up to
a nice white silver finish. It still looks dull and somewhat dingy.
I’m now questioning whether it is in fact sterling silver. Is there a
way to tell? Is there a better way to remove the oxidation?

Thanks for your help.


I’ve run across different things from the orient. Fine silver that
was blackened with some kind of painty goop, paint remover or acetone
should work.

If it has indeed been LOS’d and is being stubborn you can try
carefully heating the chain with your torch, that should chase the
black away but you will have to polish.

Is there a way to tell? Is there a better way to remove the

Carleen, there’s only one test for silver that I know of, besides an
educated guess - not counting destructive testing in a lab. Put a
drop of dilute nitric acid on it. Fine silver will foam snowy white,
sterling will foam greyish white, and anything brass or bronze,
including nickel silver, will foam green. That’s the standard field

For tarnish - this applies to the guy with the matt-finished
inventory, too, if he’s reading - we use the stuff they used to
market as “Tarn-X”. Otto Frei carries it, but I don’t remember what
they call it. It’s a stinky hot-pink liquid, and it works quite

Sparex alone does not remove tarnish very well if at all. Tt removes
oxides not sulfides(tarnish and sulfur based patina). To remove
sulfides use Tarnex (commercial tarnish remover) or the baking soda
and aluminum foil tarnish removal process you can find in the Orchid


James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

I remember that tarn-x is mostly thiourea:

it removes silver sulfide which is what the black tarnish is.