Can you tell if your silver is real or plated (fake)? The ability to verify your precious metals bullion is the first step (and maybe the most important step) when investing in gold, silver, platinum, or palladium.
Real silver is one of civilization’s oldest and most reliable valuable metals. Plated silver is almost worthless. The difference between the two is stark, but differentiating can be challenging for the untrained eye. This guide will help you spot fake bullion and protect you from fraudulent investments.*
*Of course, this information can also help you find out if your silver jewelry, cutlery, or decorations are authentic, too.
Why It’s Impossible to Fake Silver Perfectly
Silver is not a man-made creation. It’s a naturally occurring element with its own unique atomic properties. That said, all silver owners should understand that no investment-grade bullion is 100% pure silver. Pure silver is incredibly delicate and soft, not very conducive to retaining a bar or coin shape. Instead, silver bars and coins (and jewelry, etc.) are what are known as alloys, or blends of silver and other metals in trace amounts. Investment grade silver products are Fine silver. They are mostly either 99.9% or 99.99% silver. Sterling-quality silver is 92.5% silver.
It is important to know that there are no fake silver bars, coins, or other products that can fake industry-standard silver alloys.
Test Method #1: Silver Melts Ice
One relatively easy and fun way to test your silver bars and coins is to place a cube of ice on them. Even at room temperature, authentic silver products will melt the ice at an exceedingly rapid rate. For the best results, try melting a second cube on a different kind of metal, such as copper, steel, or aluminum.
Test Method #2: Silver Can Sing
Find another (ideally smooth, soft, and non-abrasive) metal and gently strike it against your metal bullion. If your silver is real, you will hear a definitive “ping” sound reverberate from the collision. This ping, or chime, is distinct to real silver.
Test Method #3: Real Silver Is Not Magnetic
Most fake silvers use a thin silver plating to achieve the same shine and, to a much lesser extent, the same conductivity. However, this betrays one of the most powerful identifying properties of real silver: silver is not magnetic. Unfortunately, the magnetism check requires a somewhat powerful magnet to prove. This can be difficult since most households lack such magnets.
Test Method #4: Look at the Markings
Of course, the fastest and most obvious way to check for authentic silver is to look at the silver markings. Since the earliest days of coinage and artisanship, silversmiths and craftsmen put a designer market on their creations to prove quality and to differentiate from the competition. For example, sterling silver products almost always carry a “Sterling” stamp, usually near the bottom. Investment-quality bullion is always fine silver.
When it comes to bars and coins, the markings should include weight, purity, serial numbers, sometimes even mintage year. While these markings can be faked, missing or incorrect markings are a clear sign of a cheap knock-off.
(For a short video demonstration, check out The Pawn Stars discuss silver markings and testing for silver authenticity.)
Silver Bullion as Stalwart Against Fiat Money, Economic Turmoil
Silver remains the second-most popular precious metal for commodity investing, both in the United States and internationally. Since many silver bars and coins qualify for Self-Directed IRA inclusion, investors can protect their portfolio while staving off the IRS, too.
You can own real, physical silver bullion and store it in a tax-advantaged retirement vehicle. American Bullion can discuss your options and help you every step of the way. Our #1 goal is to help you take control of your own finances, and we promise to be transparent, safe, and efficient in the process.
Although the information in this commentary has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, American Bullion does not guarantee its accuracy and such information may be incomplete or condensed. The opinions expressed are subject to change without notice. American Bullion will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be used to make buy or sell decisions for any type of precious metals.