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Testing silver metal


I have been given two narrow heavy guage strips of silver metal. I
believe they are either sterling silver or fine silver. I would like
to test the metal to: 1. eliminate the possibility that it is nickle
silver (or whatever); and/or 2. determine if it is fine or sterling
silver. I would like to be able to do this simply, without the use
of acid to make the determination (if possible). Hope all of you
Metal Wizards can assist with this quandry. Thanks, in advance, for
any and all help.

Linda Kaye-Moses

Hi Linda

The way to test it is the way I test 24k and 22k gold, annealled the
two metals and the one that oxidized is the 22k gold. Annealled the
two silver and the one that oxidized is the sterling silver. I hope
this help Note Be sure not to melt it. :>)

Renato L. Ronquillo CMBJ

Being the guy that tries to keep things simple. I would clean up the
end and attack it with liver of sulphur. Fine silver little to no
reaction, sterling goes black, nickel little to no reaction. then
weigh it. Check the formulas in the back of many jewelry books and it
should be obvious. Bill

Bill, Deborah, Michele & Sarah
Reactive Metals Studio, Inc
928-634-3434, 800-876-3434, 928-634-6734fx

There’s a couple of good replies on this, but here’s another. The
best, definitive way to test it, besides a full out assay, is to use
nitric acid. One drop is all it takes. Fine silver will have white
foam, sterling will be a dirty white, grayish foam, and anything
brass, like nickle silver will be green. Aside from that, the
suggestion to use liver of sulfur (I use what used to be WinOx, which
would be the same) is a good one. You could also anneal it, or cut
a piece and anneal it. Fine silver will bend like butter, sterling
will bend easily, and nickel silver will be springy - it will also
oxidize in heating. I could tell you just by looking at it, and
silver is light weight (lower density), but I guess if you could do
that you wouldn’t be here asking… The probability is that if it is
silver, it’s likely sterling. There are those who use large sheets of
fine, like enamelists, but probably 98% of it is sterling, out there
in the world.