Real or fake sterling?

A friend sent me several pieces of fake Tiffany jewelry to melt and
use. I melted a link and it melted quickly into a ball–like
silver–but it has a gold color that doesn’t polish off. Any ideas?
I doubt that it is worth time and effort but just want to make sure.

Marcia Weaver

Any ideas? 

silver plated copper?

Hello Marcia;

A friend sent me several pieces of fake Tiffany jewelry to melt
and use....but it has a gold color that doesn't polish off. 

I’ve seen that. We had a customer wanted a “Tiffany” silver ring,
stamped as such, sized. Yep, turned out to be brass, and it wasn’t
easy to get a good silver plating on it to correct what happened. Not
that we didn’t inform her and we weren’t trying to cover our tracks,
just trying to make the best of the situation for a good customer.
Silver plating is a bit more challenging for a small shop than other

I believe I’ve heard that Tiffany claims that they do not sell any
products on the Internet. There is a lot of fake Tiffany out there,
and I’ll wager your friend bought this stuff online. If it actually
came from Tiffany, it certainly would be what they claim it is,
albeit, overpriced compared to similar products.

David L. Huffman


Here’s an article you may find helpful:
Buyers of Chinese “Sterling” Beware!

Jeff Herman


Thanks for your insight:

There is a lot of fake Tiffany out there,and I'll wager your
friend bought this stuff online. 

Yes, she did and she realized it was fake sometime after she received
it. So, my concern is: If I throw it out, will I be dumping any
silver at all? Does brass melt and ball up quickly? This did–maybe
too quickly, maybe not–I was using a hot torch. I hammered the ball
and it hammered like fine silver but is clearly a lovely brass color
all the way through. It is stamped with the Tiffany wording and 925.
She was sure it was sterling altho’ not Tiffany.

Must have paid way too much for it.

You’ve been great. Thanks!
Marcia Weaver

Buyers of Chinese "Sterling" Beware! 

All of you please read this article. This could be huge problem!

We do business with a vendor who wholesales Chinese glass beads,
including some large-hole varieties for knock-off silverplated
Pandora bracelets. These Chinese-made metal lined beads are stamped
.925. Our vendor says it costs more to order these base-metal beads
without the .925 stamp. In other words, there is demand for this


yup… I won’t buy sterling from China any more. I took a chance on
some chains from a dealer who said they were silver, showed pictures
of the stamps and they were stamped. The person had mostly good
feedback, but only because most of the people buying didn’t know
enough to test it. It was silver plating over some metal that did not
melt easily…it heated up more like brass or steel…glowing
rather than melting.


Cyndy Wolf,

Thank you many times over for the great link about Chinese
"Sterling". It gives a clear explanation of what is happening and
what the buyers’s options are. I will share this link on my blog, in
my jewelry class, with my customers and friends. I was just trying
to find words to tell my customer/friend that the pieces I received
from her were not sterling as she thought. This was exactly what I

Thanks again,
Marcia Weaver

If you are buying silver from that overseas country, as the saying
goes…“buyer beware!”

or if " it’s too good to be true, it probably is". Can’t you all keep
your local metal suppliers busy and buy here in North America? This
way you will all avoid the little “surprises” after the fact…

Gerry Lewy!

I also did some repair work on a charm bracelet that was marked as
925 Tiffany, and allegedly from a reputable jewellery website. It
had a “brass” colour - we didn’t get it hot, but I’m sure it would
have had a low melting point.

It was only one charm, however - the rest, all hearts, seemed OK.
Was this just a single fake that had been added to a genuine item
after shipping from the manufacturer, or, were a certain percentage
of fakes being inserted by overseas manufacturers?

The nature of marking systems is that they are easy to fake. The UK
hallmark system is very thorough, but it would be incredibly easy to
make UKP 1000s by faking it, and the probability of getting caught
is fairly low

A common gold scam in the UK is pawning gold-plated base metal
signet rings. Pawning, rather than selling.

Jamie Hall