On the eye and to the touch
To start at home or in the store at the time of purchase, you should inspect the entire product. It must necessarily have a stamp indicating the sample. In Russia, the most common is 925 samples, but there are also samples from 800 to 999. Different states have adopted their own stamps, and the state can change the standards of branding. There are tables of stamps and the rules of their application. If you are seriously interested in a question, you can always find out what the stamp is in front of you and what its meaning is. This is especially important for antique silver items.
Real experts can with high probability determine the authenticity of a silver product by eye. The metal reflects the light well, from this strongly shines. It has a characteristic silver-white shade. If the product is not cleaned, it is covered with a dark film, it becomes dim, with a pinkish tinge.
- It is very easy to distinguish shabby nickel silver dishes from silver. Under the whitish upper layer, the metal of another, usually pinkish, color appears. Chrome gives a bluish tint, nickel alloy - a little noticeable yellow. Silver does not change its shade in volume, it will be both inside and outside white.
- To determine the authenticity by touch, hold the product in your hand. Silver conducts heat well, so it heats up very quickly, and its temperature equals that of your body. This method is very approximate, but people who are constantly in contact with noble metals know how to use it.
- It is very easy to distinguish aluminum from silver by weight. Silver is much denser, therefore, it is felt in the hand, which indicates its authenticity. Aluminum is very light.
- The product, which includes zinc, will leave a little noticeable plaque in your hands if you hold it for a long time.
Iodine and sulfur ointment
There are very few substances that can affect precious metals. Among them stands iodine. If you anoint with iodine real silver, then a stain is formed on it. This method should be used very carefully, because you can spoil a beautiful product. It is best to choose an unobtrusive area, apply a minimum of iodine with a cotton swab and immediately wipe it off.
Sulfuric ointment, sold in a pharmacy, has the same reaction. To check for authenticity:
- product is lightly rubbed with fine-grained sandpaper;
- smeared with a small amount of sulfuric ointment;
- leave for 10-15 minutes, then inspect the surface.
Dark spot indicates authenticity, on nickel or stainless steel there will be no such stain at all.
There is such a way to check. Rub the decoration with chalk. If it is silver, then the chalk will become dark. A more modern method is the use of a special test for silver. It is easy to apply at home and easier to remove from the surface.
Scratching and magnetic properties
If there is a suspicion that a thing is silver plated on top, then you need to lightly scratch it. A thin film is erased and will give a fake. In the store, they are unlikely to allow you to do this, but when you buy a product from your hands, you can safely require an elementary examination to determine this product or a fake.
To distinguish silver from iron or nickel alloy, you need to bring a magnet to the product. Silver is absolutely not magnetic. This is the most affordable method at home, however, it will not work if the fake is made of non-magnetic material( aluminum, nickel silver, etc.).
More complex methods
There is a hydrostatic weighing method based on Archimedes law. To implement it, you need accurate scales. The essence of the method is that the product is first weighed in the usual way, determining the dry mass, and then immersed in water, determining the mass in water. If you divide the dry mass by the difference of two masses, you get the density of the metal. For silver, this value should be 10.5, which indicates its authenticity. If you got a density of about 7, then in front of you, most likely, tin.
This is not to say that at home this method is easy to implement, but you can do it if you wish. It is best to have scales for hydrostatic weighing, but, of course, they are only in laboratories.
Spectral analysis is the most accurate and fast. Professionals also use assay stones, use chlorine gold and other reagents. But such methods at the household level are used extremely rarely. They are used primarily by jewelers and laboratory staff. It is necessary to contact them if you want to know the composition of the alloy.