Do you have a prized silver antique collection, but do you know if it is solid silver of simply silver plated? Does it really make a difference?
Silver plating was developed as an inexpensive way for people who couldn’t afford sterling (or solid silver) to enjoy the beauty of the metal without the hefty price tag. In fact, some manufacturers got so good at creating silver plated items that it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the two. Unfortunately, when it comes to the value of your items, whether you have solid or plated silver makes a big difference, so it is important to be able to differentiate between the two.
What is Silver-plate
As the name suggests, a thin layer of silver plate is is placed over the item, typically copper, nickel or brass. Often silver plated items will be marked EP, EPNS or Silver-plate even in some cases there may be no markings. When a Silver plated item is polished, over time the base metal will start to show through or you may even feel ‘pitting’ roughness on the item.
Look for a Stamp
If your antique silver item is truly sterling silver and not simply plated, it will be stamped with a telltale hallmark. Typically found on the bottom of the piece, a silver stamp may include (but not limited to):
▪The words “Sterling Silver’
▪A numeric value (800, 835, 900, 925, etc.)
▪A lion hallmark (For English silver)
If you notice a stamp on your antique silver, use a magnifying glass to inspect it closely.
If your antique silver doesn’t have a stamp, you should be wary about its silver content. It may have simply been produced in a country that doesn’t stamp its solid silver products or be silver-plated. But you should follow up with an additional test.
Perform the Magnet Test
A strong magnet can be a good tool in determining whether your silver antique is solid silver or plated. Silver exhibits weak magnetic effects, so if you hold a magnet up and it sticks to the piece strongly, you can feel pretty confident that the piece isn’t silver. Similarly, if the magnet doesn’t stick, you shouldn’t automatically assume that you’ve got the real deal. There are plenty of materials that resemble silver and are not magnetic.
Get Your Piece Checked
If you still aren’t sure about whether or not your antique is solid silver or silver plated, contact us to arrange that we examine your item and tell you about its silver composition.
Collectors World is able to assist you with identifying your Silver items
Contact us to arrange an appointment.