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Community Member
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎07-11-2007

Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

hi, fellow sterling lovers and all ebayers in general.


 


how is your sterling silver holding up with the magnet test? mine isnt doing too well. is the magnet testing method even a legit way to test sterling?


 


ive collected jewelry of all kinds for decades and decided to test all my sterling and now im confuzzled and rather wish that i would have never attempted this undertaking, its about to send me to the undertaker, lol.


 


what ive found is thus....a lot of my sterling is sticking to a magnet and so im assuming that its fake. this is not good.


 


ive purchased jewelry from many sources, from department stores and jewelry shops, from walmart and thrift stores to garage sales and ebay and everywhere else in between and testing the magnetic way has revealed some very strange revelations. i even have some milor italy necklaces and they show some oddities, the clasp will stick to the magnet and test out as to being faux but the chain part or pendant will not stick to the magnet and thusly seems to be real sterling. whats the deal with this?


 


i can understand the items from china being of dubious metal content  but this is really strange, i have pieces from mervyns that are clearly testing fake and i have walmart pieces that test fake and some from home shopping networks that have clasps that stick and other areas that dont. whats up with this?


 


here i thought that i knew something about my sterling and now im puzzled and in a quandry.


 


has anybody else checked their sterling with a magnet lately?


 


its odd, all the older pieces that i have that arent marked sterling do not stick to a magnet. these ones are old southwestern pieces with turquoise but no metal markers. a ton of the newer items that i have could be fake but they are marked and the old is not. is this backwards or is it my thinking that is? lol.


 


 how am i to list anything when i cannot be sure as to whats what now?


 


wow, i cannot believe that about 30 percent of what ive checked might not be solid sterling. maybe its just the clasps that are fake, what an ordeal this is thus far. now im afraid to list anything as being sterling.


 


oh, happy day, lol.


 


so much for worshipping jewelry, the false idol of today, lol.


 

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Community Member
Posts: 601
Registered: ‎10-13-2009

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

As you have discovered, it is not uncommon to attach a plated clasp to a sterling chain, just because it is cheaper, or bcause the original clasp broke and it is replaced with something that is not sterling. You can buy a silver test kit if you want to do more accurate testing on your older Native American stuff before selling it.

All know the way, but few follow it.
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Community Member
Posts: 497
Registered: ‎03-07-2009

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

If the clasp is the spring lock type, it will attract a magnet because the spring is made from steel. This is to assure that it will hold up since it is opened and closed frequently.

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Community Member
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎07-11-2007

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

i purchased a few items from walmart during the holidays last year and magnet tested two of them and one doesnt stick to the magnet anywhere but the other sticks to the magnet throughout the entire piece so now im worried to purchase new or used. disclaimers arent given new so should one give one when selling used?


 


i think from here on out i will do the acid testing method. what color should the metal then turn to denote it is sterling?


 


the only thing i wonder about with an acid test is if it renders jewelry worthless to sell as just costume if it doesnt test as 925 because it could ruin the tone of the piece and discolor it.


 


i think from here on out i will go the costume route when purchasing any place at all since sometimes costume can be worth as much as sterling and this way i will at least know what im getting as far as metal content goes.


 


i cant believe the public wouldnt think selling jewelry that claims to be sterling could be fake and thats coming directly from retail  outlets that type of selling has the capabilities to possibly fake or half fake from the get-go?  is this a legal and a fairly wide-spread practice?


 


im going to take about 20 rings that i have and sell them as costume, they attatch to a magnet throughout. would this be the proper and honest thing to do? will i have to say they were magnet tested and stuck? i think thats the safest way to do.


 


some pendants i have stick. i will have to make that known now, i suppose. why doesnt everybody else list as such and make things like this known??????

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adkhighker
Community Member
Posts: 1,061
Registered: ‎01-16-2009

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

debsrarities, when I test for sterling, I don't do the acid test on the piece itself. I do a touchstone test, rubbing a corner of the piece on the touchstone and then applying a drop of silver testing solution on the silver rub mark on the stone. The drop should stay red if it's sterling. Where you have to be careful is when the piece is heavily plated. Then you could get a false positive. In those cases, you might have to file a small spot of the plating away and then do your rub. Of course, if it's fine jewelry, you would not want to file any marks on the piece itself.



BTW, are your pieces all marked "sterling" or "925", even the ones that have been sticking to your magnet?

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Community Member
Posts: 35
Registered: ‎07-11-2007

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

they are all marked,yes.


 


most have the clasps that stick so im assuming that is standard practice for durability. some stick throughout the entire piece and some only stick at the clasps. its the ones that stick throughout that really have me wondering.


 


thanks for clearing things up for me with the testing colors and all.


 


 i used to know my jewelry.... until i decided to mess with a pesky and most troublesome magnet. never again, lol.

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Community Member
Posts: 497
Registered: ‎03-07-2009

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

AS I stated if it is a spring type clasp, you can expect it to stick to a magnet. Some clasps are even marked 925 somewhere and they are except for the steel spring.. If the whole chain sticks, that is another matter. I even had a real thick heavy one marked 750 Italy that clung to the magnet.

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moosie-goosie
Community Member
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎02-13-2009

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

Has anyone else looked into the Federal Trade Commission regulations??   (copy below)


You'll notice that they say ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about marking jewelry 925.


Is that how the manufacturers are getting away with it?



I have been buying scrap gold and silver for several years now and will not buy anything magnetic. My refiner will not accept it either.



The worst offenders are the newer 925 jewelry. Honey, I don’t care if you bought it at Macys, JCPenney, or wherever… I am not offering anything for it if it is magnetic. (Clasps are the only exception – steel spring inside)



A while back I bought a 10K white gold class ring from the 2000's years -made by Herff Jones (one of the big school suppliers.)  It's NOT gold.  Upon contacting them, I was told that the acid test brought the copper to the surface ( ummm, no,  it ate away the plating to reveal the true content! )  If I send it back to them directly they will reimburse me for the gold.  (Then I won't have the ring to EXPOSE them.  Cover up!?!?!?)



-----------------------------



  • For more information regarding what is classified as genuine sterling silver and what can and cannot be marked as such, here is what the FTC has to say:



  • 23.6 Misrepresentation as to silver content.

  • (a) It is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent that an industry product contains silver, or to misrepresent an industry product as having a silver content, plating, electroplating, or coating.


  • (b) It is unfair or deceptive to mark, describe, or otherwise represent all or part of an industry product as “silver,” “solid silver,” “Sterling Silver,” “Sterling,” or the abbreviation “Ster.” unless it is at least 925/1,000ths pure silver.


  • (c) It is unfair or deceptive to mark, describe, or otherwise represent all or part of an industry product as “coin” or “coin silver” unless it is at least 900/1,000ths pure silver.


  • (d) It is unfair or deceptive to mark, describe, or otherwise represent all or part of an industry product as being plated or coated with silver unless all significant surfaces of the product or part contain a plating or coating of silver that is of substantial thickness.


  • (e) The provisions of this section relating to markings and descriptions of industry products and parts thereof are subject to the applicable tolerances of the National Stamping Act or any amendment thereof.

  • Note 1 to § 23.6: The National Stamping Act provides that silver plated articles shall not “be stamped, branded, engraved or imprinted with the word ‘sterling’ or the word ‘coin,’ either alone or in conjunction with other words or marks.” Exemptions recognized in the industry and not to be considered in any assay for quality of a silver industry product include screws, rivets, springs, spring pins for wrist watch straps; posts and separable backs of lapel buttons; wire pegs, posts, and nuts used for applying mountings or other ornaments, which mountings or ornaments shall be of the quality marked; pin stems (e.g., of badges, brooches, emblem pins, hat pins, and scarf pins, etc.); levers for belt buckles; blades and skeletons of pocket knives; field pieces and bezels for lockets; bracelet and necklace snap tongues; any other joints, catches, or screws; and metallic parts completely and permanently encased in a nonmetallic covering.”

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Community Member
Posts: 8
Registered: ‎12-18-2011

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

It is difficult to foresee any buyer whether they are buying silver as real money or fake money. Because of that silver can not 'see' to the naked eye.



The money is the best conductor of electricity. Against bites of nearly any type of decay. Acetic acid is resistant to the bite of an advantage. However, smoke or air mixed with sulfur to capture the darker the skin, the flesh can not see the money.
Silver has many benefits. Industrial silver alloys used in the connection. The mechanical components are used and also used as ingredients in making the film as well. In medicine the same funds as the canker Used to protect parts of the brain, the skull was cut to the bone, using a mixture of mercury and more. For the filling very well.
Silver or silver to us. Known as the 100% pure silver and silver alloys for strength in the description. The money is mentioned in the second one is Sterling (Sterling) means that there are no more than 7.5% copper is silver standard of quality is generally acceptable. And other types of real money is not as artificial as the German silver, copper and nickel. No meat for me.
To prove the purity of the money. The notch was used to scrape the flesh into hard currency, as is evident from the incision Pddgwg money. Nitric acid is used, but this is 100% white, it would not change if the amount of 92.5% will be green if it is contaminated, it is very green in proportion.
The pure silver. When the smoke is black, as some have already mentioned. Not pure silver mixed with other metals than the standard when it is not a silver, black, yellow or red color, but a metal alloy. The money kept in sealed containers tightly closed in a black plastic bag so it's not easy. But the black money is washed out in several ways such as boiling water, squeeze lemon Marl scratch with flour or cream metal polish or clear solution with an acid. This approach is too white.
For nickel, which has a shiny white metal like silver, it is hard without the quotes. It is often used instead of money in order to make items such as jewelry or other cheap, but it is clear, shiny nickel, silver and white, rather than more.



By. Mr.Silver

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Community Member
Posts: 15
Registered: ‎02-14-2006

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities


About the only thing a magnet will do is tell you if a piece of jewelry is NOT gold or silver if it attracts in the least little bit. However, if it does not attract at all, that does not mean it is sterling silver or gold. To determine if your pieces are sterling silver or gold, you would have to do further testing, such as touchstone acid tests.



Having said that, I use a magnet fairly often, especially when assessing a bunch of chains/necklaces. A magnet will quickly eliminate anything that sticks. Then I switch to the acid tests to determine gold or silver.




This is not entirely true. There are .925 sterling necklaces that are called liquid silver. They have a very tiny (tiger tail) plastic coated strand to reinforce the necklace. This is usually steel and will attract a magnet. So, watch for this.



What I've also found is, that while mostly copper is used (usually 7.5%), other trace metals may be used to slow down the tarnishing. There have been some pieces made using trace amounts of nickel, also cobalt can also be used and is magnetic. Cobalt is designed and jeweled just as precious metals are.



However, it would take a very powerful magnet to detect traces of nickel or cobalt. But, it can attract a magnet (just ever so slightly. I mean almost un-noticeable, but does)



Was/is it a cheats way to cut down on the amount of silver used, if even by a small amount? Maybe, but it doesn't mean your silver jewelry piece doesn't contain "silver", it may just not be the standard .925. However, it could still be.



Jewelers through out the times have no doubt done their best to reduce their cost of producing their pieces.



Once you've ruled out the magnet test, an acid test, if used properly, will give the best result. Pieces that unquestionably are attracted to the magnet are not silver. Don't waste your acid or time. But pieces that seem to "almost" or "maybe" seem like they're attracted, could still contain much silver.




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Community Member
Posts: 23
Registered: ‎11-09-2006

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities


debsrarities, when I test for sterling, I don't do the acid test on the piece itself. I do a touchstone test, rubbing a corner of the piece on the touchstone and then applying a drop of silver testing solution on the silver rub mark on the stone. The drop should stay red if it's sterling. Where you have to be careful is when the piece is heavily plated. Then you could get a false positive. In those cases, you might have to file a small spot of the plating away and then do your rub. Of course, if it's fine jewelry, you would not want to file any marks on the piece itself.


 


BTW, are your pieces all marked "sterling" or "925", even the ones that have been sticking to your magnet?



I took my bracelts to a jewler and this same test is the one they did to tell me if the items were silver or not.  I had never seen it done before and yes they all tested silver. 

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Community Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-31-2012

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

I have tested all of my sterling after receiving some shiny sterling silver bracelets.  They were slighty magnetic, so I acid tested them.  I found out that there was a thin layer of I am guessing nickel that was ate off by the acid reveling a dull metal underneath that was not attracted to a magnet and tested red for sterling.  So in conclusion, some manufacturers flash coat sterling with nickel or other magnetic metals to wart off tarnishing.  I had to ruin one necklace completely to find this out, but I will just sell it to a friend that does backyard refining, so whatever.  I would however, prefer to not have had to deal with this.  I just don't want to ruin the other necklaces to find out for sure, but they are probably made the same way.

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Community Member
Posts: 497
Registered: ‎03-07-2009

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

Nickel is magnetic?

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evelyb30
Community Member
Posts: 5,222
Registered: ‎09-08-2006

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

No, it's not.  The coating might be rhodium, especially if the pieces don't tarnish. Lots of modern manufacturers, including Tiffany, use it.  I don't buy modern silver much.  You don't know what's under the coating.


======================================================
She who dies with the most toys still dies; when's the estate sale?
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Community Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎07-18-2008

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

Yes, pure nickel is magnetic. We use a 7% vanadium alloy to make it non-magnetic (for non-jewelery applications). I had never that a coating of nickel might be magnetic, but... 

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evelyb30
Community Member
Posts: 5,222
Registered: ‎09-08-2006

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

I tested it out, and pure nickel is mildly magnetic - it doesn't stick to a magnet like steel will.  A strong magnet will attract nickel ... sort of.  The same magnet will take a heavy costume chain and lift it off the table.  A coating, unless it's on a steel chain, shouldn't do much.



Is the vanadium component the same reason stainless steel doesn't react to a magnet much if at all?

======================================================
She who dies with the most toys still dies; when's the estate sale?
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Community Member
Posts: 197
Registered: ‎12-10-2009

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

There is "NO" ferris metals in 925 sterling silver. In other words no steel or iron is in sterling silver.



May be you have the "special sterling silver magnet" we would love one where do you buy one !!!!!!!!!!!!!. They are no doubt from the same people who make "stone magnets". We have spent our whole life in this trade looking for a diamond magnet and no one has come up with one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. We are always dropping diamonds on the floor and one would be so helpful......



Who ever is making a "silver", with a magnetic alloy is not making sterling silver.Jillian.

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owl4343
Community Member
Posts: 682
Registered: ‎10-24-2004

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

Sterling silver just has to have a 925/1000 silver content.  There is no requirement for what other metals must be used.  The traditional alloy is copper, but it looks like some countries are putting whatever junk they want in it.



From InStore Magazine (for the Jewelry Industry) in the June 2012 issue:



"Q:I have received a few sterling silver pieces over the counter and even some from vendors recently that were attracted to a magnet. That’s not supposed to happen, is it? Should I be worried? What should I do?



A:You’re not alone in seeing this. We recently asked our Brain Squad panel if they were having similar experiences, and about one in five of the 145 jewelers who answered the question said they were regularly seeing low-purity silver being offered as sterling. Robert Truhe, manager of Dillon Gage Refinery in Dallas, TX, said his company had also noticed a decline in the overall purity of silver lots over the past 18 months.

Truhe attributed this in part to the influx of silver goods from overseas, where standards are not as stringent as in the U.S. (the National Stamping Act of 1906 states the variance can only be “a divergence in the fineness of four one-thousandth points” from the required .925.)

“Also, our research shows that some jewelers make the mistake of assuming something is sterling silver (.925) when it is marked nickel silver or German silver. This is not the case,” he says.

Another factor muddying the issue is the use by manufacturers of various magnetic metals in the plating of silver goods.

“There is plenty of that going on,” said Jo-Ann Sperano, a mediation specialist at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. “We just did some nondestructive assays on silver product that some retail jewelers felt was not 92.5 percent pure. The non-destructive tests came back as under .925 and were attracted to magnets."
However, when the pieces were sent for fire assay, the jewelry did turn out to be .925 silver, Sperano says.

Truhe advises jewelers to do an acid test of all sterling silver pieces, in addition to looking for markings. “The absolute most important point in all of this is to make sure the staff who are buying material over the counter are properly trained and that strict procedures are in place for testing all gold and silver products. If shortcuts are taken, the jewelry store will suffer the losses,” he says.

Sperano encouraged jewelers who think they have identified pieces from manufacturers that are of less purity than marked to contact the JVC.

“We must be notified since we have found loads of product that had little or no silver. Stay in close touch so we have a chance to do prevention rather than damage control,” she says, adding that the JVC handles such cases in a confidential manner.

OUR BRAIN SQUAD ALSO HAD THESE TIPS, BASE ON THEIR EXPERIENCES:


We have been burned a couple of times from buying over the counter, and to combat that, we have reduced our purchase price. As we are one of the few in the area still purchasing silver we are doing very well offering a little lower percentage. — Bret Dougherty, Studio 2015 Jewelry, Woodstock, IL

>> “Mexican silver” is made with quite a bit more lead so we adjusted to giving around 30 to 40 percent instead of 60 to 70 percent. We do acid tests but if I am not sure it goes to a refiner and they melt and test. The customer knows they are responsible for all mail and melt charges, so they can decide. — Tom R. Nelson, Nelson Jewelry, Spencer, IA

>> Flatware is mostly accurate, but other silver, buyer beware! I've been stuck more than I care with under-karated silver. Paying much less now for crafted silver scrap. — Amber Gustafson, Amber's Designs, Katy, TX

>>We have all of our vendors verify the origin of product and also if the merchandise is nickelfree. Nickel-free is the best way to go; a lot of people are allergic to nickel. — David Abrams, Grand Jewelers, Ontario, Canada

>> We have heard of a group trying to triple-plate brass to pass the acid testing but if scratch tested it will show a gold color. — Scott Kelly, Jems Jewels & Gold, North Wales, PA



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Community Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎09-10-2012

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

I have reviewed the posts about nickel being added to silver and thus causing it to be magnetic. As a test, I smelted a sample of fine silver and added a quantity of 40 percent nickel to the alloy. The result was non-,magnetic.


 


The pure nickel was only very slightly magnetic to my rare-earth magnet. The resultant alloy showed no attraction. There must be another metal that is added to the alloy to cause this attraction, and I suspect iron.


 


Regardless if the assay comes out to be .925/1000, I do not purchase magnetic jewelry. It is rejected by my refiner so there is no point. X-ray equipment in our shop gives a purity of .655 silver, .082 iron, and the rest lead.


 


This is for a sample of jewelery purchased in bulk from China in 2011 by a 'big box' store locally. We were called upon to test the lot when customers complained that the silver was not sterling.


 


 

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Community Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-14-2012

Re: Sterling Silver vs the magnet test

in reply to debsrarities

Interesting thread.  I use a small iridium magnet constantly as a rough first test of silver coins I buy.



Silver is of course not magnetic but is dimagnetic.  This means you can slide small iridium magnets for example down the surface of the silver at 45 degrees and see some 'loitering' effect as it steadily slides off.  It is best seen in high content silver coins but often is still noticeable with .500.



However, I picked up a Great Britain Gothic Florin dated 1852 (.925) in a job lot the other day and found that my small (3mmx1mm) iridium magnet clung to the coin when upside down ... not like it would with a steel core fake (been palmed off with some of those in job lots!) nor like it would with an almost pure nickel coin but cling it does.



I have no other reason to suspect the coin is fake so whilst I know that silver DOES have some effect with strong magnets, I am now wondering what I have really discovered about this 160 year old florin or what it might be made of!  Next step get some chemicals I guess:-)

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