Magnetic silver

Hi everyone magnetic sterling silver ! no this is not a pun or
catchy phrase.

a month ago i purchased some heavy figaro and anchor style chain
that had the patina soft sheen of sterling silver and factory
quality hallmarks associated with mass produced chain.

upon later inspection it was noticed that this chain responded to a
magnet as in yes it stuck to the magnet. Now curious and feeling
duped i clipped of a section of the chain and put the torch to it
thinking i would find a stainless or other ferrous metal core i did
not find any steel core it puddled and melted into a ball free of
any dramatic smoke or sparks & associated display of something other
than regular silver. After this initial experiment a piece was sent
to my refiner i am using who has the new XRF laser analyser and
yesterday i received a phone call, the very professional young woman
informed me that the sample i sent was only 37% silver the rest was
nickel and other stuff.

my only logical conclusion is that this product is clearly meant to
deceive the buyer.

is anyone else out there finding any of this material ? - goo

I purchased what I thought was 16 gauge sterling silver wire at the
Intergem Show in April. A few days later I wanted to make some jump
rings and so as I was winding the wire around my dowel, noticed that
there were tiny cracks and splits in the wire. I took the wire off
the dowel and used tweezers to pull back the cracks and lo and
behold, there was copper under there. Well, I was truly pissed. I did
take the wire back to the vendor at the next Intergem show and they
did replace it.

I have seen on some of the jewelry-making sites lately that you need
to be careful buying silver because it’s not always sterling silver
and comes from China



Were those hallmarks or house marks? Where did you buy the chain?

Jeff Herman

The nickel certainly explains the magnetic properties. I will have
to remember that if I buy any cheap chain. I expect it would go green
in acid too. I wouldn’t want to wear that chain against my skin.


Please refer to my article on Chinese silver:

This is an epidemic. Plated pieces have a definite look of being,
well, plated. Also, look at the object’s construction, especially
snake chain. Run your fingers over the surface - it’s usually uneven
and rough. Never take ANYTHING for granted in this day and age.

Jeff Herman

After reading the posts about chains and wire being sold as
sterling, but are merely plated, I decided to test some pearl cups
that I recently purchased which are stamped 925. I was assured they
are sterling. To my dismay, I found they are magnetic. Close
examination showed they are a thinly plated metal. The plating was so
thin, that one could scratch it off in places. Really shoddy.

I had foolishly purchased them from a person who had approached my
booth at a recent show that I was in. The receipt he gave me only has
his name scribbled on it, no address, no phone or box number.
Fortunately I did not buy anything else from him, as I make almost
all my own findings.

Usually I never buy from vendors who approach my booth, but I was in
need of pearl cups, was pressed for time, and made the purchase.

Decided that from now on I will go back to dapping out my own
sterling cups and attaching a sterling post. Then I will be sure that
they are sterling.

I am really concerned about all the chains that are being sold as
sterling but are just plate. My inventory is getting low, but even
though I will have to pay more, I will be sure to get them from a
reputable dealer suchas Rio. I will have to raise my prices, but at
least I will know that what I have is quality merchandise.


It might be a good idea to carry a good quality pocket magnet with
you when you are shopping at venues where you are unsure of the
integrity of the vendor or the authenticity of the product. Better to
have your prospective purchase tested by you before you buy it.

construction, especially snake chain. 

Yesterday - Friday - a friend brought a gold chain to me to test, as
he buys scrap. Herringbone or something like it. Sure enough, first
test, it was magnetic - both the chain and the chain end caps. It
had no stamps, but the spring ring was stamped 14k. I’d give a
little credit in this case - since it wasn’t stamped, it wasn’t
necessarily criminal. Just a gold plated chain. Just my friends were
taken by it. I use a rare earth magnet, BTW - way better than the
hardware store kind…

Absolutely! There is so much plated stuff flooding the US market from
China though stamped.925 that it is almost essential to test anything
you take in / buy as scrap ( many jewelers in this area are buying
gold and silver scrap as fast as it is brought in.If it’s stamped
they don’t ordinarily test it, thus much “bad” material is being
alloyed unintentionally- I brought some scrap to my buyer and found
it was 90.2% silver and the balance chromium and copper…I was
floored.Also be wary of Pt that is too soft- I recently bought some
scrap marked 90% Pt /10% Ir and after XRF tessting it it revealed
52% Pt only, the balance white gold and again, chromium…It was
presumably manufactured in China as the seller- another jeweler
described his purchasing the settings at a show in North

It might be a good idea to carry a good quality pocket magnet with
you when you are shopping at venues where you are unsure of the
integrity of the vendor or the authenticity of the product. 

That’s a good suggestion. At the last trade show I attended, there
was a vendor selling supposedly sterling silver chains for a cheaper
price. I would have considered buying a batch of them, were it not
for the fact that they actually looked cheap and I preferred the
quality of the ones from my usual supplier (jewellery supply co and
bullion dealer). The dealer and other staff running the stand were
all Chinese. Now I’m not saying they were dodgy, but I was certainly
suspicious at the time. I will be taking a magnet with me the next
time I go and give them a sneaky test.


as in my case the silver i bought was chain and it was not plated it
was an alloy 37% silver and the rest nickel and other stuff it was
marked .925 italy with a quality look about the stamp. i suppose it
is time to start documenting and writing letters to state attorneys
etc. - goo

Wow, really interesting to hear the next cheating we have to contend

BTW…where do we obtain a Rare Earth Magnet?

Rose Marie Christison

I agree with Dee’s suggestion about carrying a pocket magnet when
shopping at venues. Most dealers are honest, but once in a while, one
does encounter one who misrepresents the wares being sold.

Actually, just to be on the safe side when purchasing any metal, I
shall get the items from a reliable source. I have never been
disappointed with anything I have gotten from Rio. Usual disclaimers,
just a very satisfied customer.


Lee Valley sells them in many sizes. Depends on how quickly you
would like the on the cards in your purse or pocket
wiped clean. :wink:

They work great…just be careful where you keep them. Don’t ask how
I know…let’s just say that the bank replaces the cards with a
smile…or was that a giggle???

Is there anything like: a bad batch of silver from a (reliable)
supplier? I had it one or two times in the past and a friend just
recently that under rolling the silver cracks for no reason and even
with a remelt it cracks again. What kind of contamination can it be

Peter Deckers from NZ

i suppose it is time to start documenting and writing letters to
state attorneys etc. - goo 

Improper quality marks are the domain of the FTC and they should be
included as a recipient of your letter.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts

...where do we obtain a Rare Earth Magnet? 

Rose, and all - get thee to Ebay. They are elsewhere, too. Search
for"rare earth magnet", “NdFeB” (as they are made of Neodymium Iron
Boron) or “neodymium magnet”. Or on your search engine of choice.
Two Ebay stores I have saved are China Magnet Source and K&J
Magnetics, though there are many magnets on Ebay.

They are the same magnets used to make magnetic tumblers, and they
are ~intensely~ powerful for their size. I’d say don’t go bigger
than a 1/4" cylinder or so for something you’ll carry around. If it
gets anywhere near anything with a magnetic strip (credit cards)
then that strip is toast.

I made the mistake of buying a couple that are 2" and an inch thick,
and they are just plain scary to handle in a shop full of sharp
steel things. A really big one will alter the picture on a TV screen
when you enter the room.

But the smaller ones are just nice, powerful magnets. I’m just
saying - don’t think bigger is better, necessarily.

shopping at venues where you are unsure of the integrity of the
vendor or the authenticity of the product 

Not wishing to sound snarky again but why would anyone buy from ‘in
doubt’ vendors? Buy from people you trust, I think your customers do.
I think your customers deserve it.

Source for a Rare Earth Magnet… Rose Marie Christison asked for a
source for a Rare Earth Magnet. Two possible sources for a small
Neodymium Magnet aRe:

  1. Steve Spangler Science


  1. Edmund Scientific

Some Rare Earth info… Rare Earth type magnets, etc., are
apparently used in wind turbines for making electricity and in the
new gas/electric automobiles, and for other uses. Most Rare Earths
are found and mined in China. Now that the U.S. wants greener
electricity generated with wind turbines and greener cars, China has
announced that they plan to keep and process most of the Rare Earths
they mine right there.

Maybe additional geological exploration will locate Rare Earth ore
deposits here for our use sometime in the future?

Hope this helps. M.G.

Thank you JJdon and M.G for sources for the Rare Earth Magnets.

I do buy my silver chains here in Denver from Azur. Excellent
Vendor. Don’t worry at all - I’m a very satisfied customer. Haven’t
purchased any for a year or so from favorite Tucson vendors.

Yesterday, to test chains for kicks, I took a small regular magnet
in one of the hardware store expandable-like pens, with a 1/4 "
magnet - (interesting and it concerned me at first) - there is a
little spring in the claw type closure that has a steel spring in it

  • that will attract the magnet, but the rest of the chain would not!

This forum has invaluable info - just keep posting these most
interesting subjects.

Rose Marie Christison