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Sterling or fine silver-how to tell?


#1

I have some old bezel wire and I need to know if its sterling or fine
silver. Its thin so it bends easily. Is there any way to tell the
difference, any definitive test?

Thanks.
Carla
http://carlamfox.com


#2

Acid test will tell what you have

John


#3

Fine silver has more a cold kind of metal look (blue-gray), sterling
has a warm look (faint yellow) due to the copper. Compare it with
silver you already have (and know about) and you’ll see the
differents in color, you c. Pure silver is very very soft and
workhardens not that quick as sterling silver


#4

Hi Carla,

I have some old bezel wire and I need to know if its sterling or
fine silver. Its thin so it bends easily. Is there any way to tell
the difference, any definitive test? 

Here’s the technique I’ve been using for years. It’s never failed me
that I know of.

  1. Cut a little snippet of the bezel wire.

  2. Lay the snippet on a fire brick.

  3. Apply the flame of a torch to it until it melts.

  4. Observe the ball of metal that forms.

  5. If it’s nice & shiny like silver, it’s fine silver.

  6. If it is brown (fire scale) it’s sterling or some other alloy.

Dave


#5
know if its sterling or fine silver. Its thin so it bends easily.
Is there any way to tell the difference, any definitive test? 

Carla, the experienced eye can tell pretty easy - fine silver is
"pure" white, sterling is a little grey or brown (just a tiny bit).
Easy way would be to get some known sterling or fine and you should
be able to tell pretty easy. Also the feel and softness is quite
different. fine silver is a “wet noodle”.

The definitive test is to put a drop of dilute nitric acid on it.
Fine silver will foam pearly white, sterling will foam greyish/dirty
white.


#6

Also look at the colour of the flame. If its sterling the copper
will impart a blue green tinge.

Jen


#7

Carla,

Just run the flame of your torch over it very lightly. If the metal
discolors is is sterling. If it stays pure silver with no
discolorationit is fine silver.

Alma


#8

carla,

you could anneal a small piece w/o fluxing it; if it’s sterling, it
will turn black (& you will have just subjected it to
firescale–hence a small piece) & if it’s fine silver, it will stay
a matte white.

bon chance,
k2


#9

Hi, copied the below message from the web. Sending it to you since
it answers your question.

The sure fire (so to speak!) way to tell any fine silver from
sterling, is to take a piece and place it in the torch flame for
a few sceonds. Sterling will very quickly develop a black coating
when removed from the flame. This is a result of the copper
content oxidizing and producing this coating, called firescale.
This firescale can only be removed by direct abrasion (physical
friction removal), or by immersing the sterling in one of a
variety of liquid baths (commonly known by the generic name of
"pickle"). 

Placing a piece of fine silver (which has no copper content)
into the flame will not result in the firescale coating
devleloping. Let us know what develops. 

Sigi Eurich


#10
know if its sterling or fine silver. Its thin so it bends easily.
Is there any way to tell the difference, any definitive test? 

Just heat a bit. If it is fine, it will turn white; if it is sterling
it will turn black/gray. This also works distinguishing between
sterling and 960 silver (used in filigree).

Janet in Jerusalem