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How can I tell if my silverware is real sterling silver?

When it comes to identifying sterling silver silverware, it's important to know a few key features that distinguish it from silver-plated or stainless steel flatware.

Here's a straightforward guide to help you determine if your silverware is indeed sterling silver.

Look for the word STERLING or 925

The simplest and most reliable way to identify sterling silver is to look for the sterling silver stamp or hallmark. In the United States, genuine sterling silver will have the word "Sterling" or the number "925" stamped somewhere on the piece, usually on the backside of the handle. The word STERLING guarantees that the piece is made of 100% solid sterling silver. This hallmark is a standard indicator of sterling silver's purity. Wondering why your dinner knives from the same set don't have the hallmark? It's because they have stainless steel blades and are therefore not 100% solid sterling silver.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. European sterling silverware and pieces made before 1900 may not have the STERLING stamp. Instead, they may have the so-called LION PASSANT hallmark, which is a tiny symbol of a lion with one paw held up.

99 out of 100 times, though, the word STERLING will be stamped on the back of the handles of your silverware if they are indeed sterling.

ES or A1 stamping? If your pieces have ES or A1 stamped on the back that means they are electroplated silver, not sterling.

Perform the Magnet Test

Sterling silver is not magnetic. You can perform a simple test using a strong magnet. If your silverware is attracted to the magnet, it's likely made of a nickel or other magnetic metal base, which means it's not sterling silver.

Check the Weight and Sound

Sterling silver typically has a heavier feel compared to silver-plated items due to its higher density. Gently tapping your silverware can also give you a clue; sterling silver will emit a high-pitched, resonant sound, while non-sterling items sound duller.

Consider Professional Appraisal

If you're still uncertain about the composition of your silverware, consider taking it to a professional appraiser. They have the tools and expertise to conduct more sophisticated tests that can definitively determine if your silverware is sterling silver.

By using these tips, you can confidently identify whether your silverware is authentic sterling silver, adding both value and elegance to your dining experience.

Remember, taking the time to properly assess your silverware can reveal its true worth and help you make informed decisions about its care and potential resale.

This article has been read 135217 times. Last read on 6/12/2024 7:51:36 PM

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