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How Can You Tell If Your Items Are Sterling Silver?

Oct 4, 2012

925In order to identify if flatware and other items are sterling silver, the items must be identified with a hallmark or stamp that states “sterling” or “925”. The stamp is usually small and placed on the bottom of bowls and plates or at the end of flatware items. Items that are sterling silver mean that they are 92.5% silver. The stamp or hallmark on these items is mandatory by the United States government in order to keep silver regulated. In fact, it is illegal for any plated or fake silver item to be stamped or hallmarked with “sterling” or “925”. As stated, “In the case of articles of merchandise made in whole of in part of an inferior metal, having deposited or plated… no such article… shall be stamped, branded, engraved or imprinted with the word ‘sterling’…”(sec 297, 15 U.S.C. 8, The first law passed igniting the start of this silver regulation was enacted by the “National Stamping Act” in 1906. Silver items from the 17th and 18th century will need further evaluation by silver experts. There is a chance that not all items from these days were stamped “sterling”. Instead, silver flatware and other items may have been stamped with the hallmark of the original maker. Luckily, the majority of individuals today withhold sterling items that are post 1906. Silver items created after this time are fairly easy to identify if they are sterling or plated. Nitric-Acid-Silver-TestItems that may appear to be sterling silver but in reality are not, are often stamped with the term “silver plated.” An item that is silver plated means that it is simply coated with a thin later of silver. Most businesses will not purchase silver plated goods because the actual extraction of the minimal silver content of the items costs more then the silver itself. If for some reason the stamp or hallmark is so worn or tarnished, a professional can test their sterling with the use of Nitric Acid. Sterling silver has a positive reaction to Nitric Acid, while silver plated and other non silver metals will have a negative reaction to Nitric Acid. During the silver test, the liquid Nitric Acid will remain the clear color. However, during a negative reaction, a drop of nitric acid will cause the liquid to turn a various green color and bubble on the item. For those who are interested in selling your sterling silver, Samuelson’s Buyers are the silver experts you want to see! We will educate you about the silver market and provide you with our best price to purchase your sterling silver. For more information, please visit our website at For more information about the National Stamping Act of 1906 please click here.

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