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3 Ways to Tell if Your Silver is Real or Plated

Whether you’re cleaning out your jewelry box or preparing some items to sell at a pawn shop for quick cash, it helps to know if items are genuine. To make items less expensive, jewelers may plate silver over another metal to create thillusion of a more luxurious piece without the cost. While you may have known this when you purchased the piece, it’s easy to forget these details over time, and antiques or inherited items may not be obviously plated. You’ll want to know the value of the pieces you plan to pawn or sell, so here are a few ways to determine if the silver is genuine or plated.

How to Test Your Silver

1. Use a MagnetSilver is not a very magnetic metal, but many of the materials used in plated silver jewelry are. If a silver item is drawn to a magnet, it’s most likely plated. While some metals that closely resemble real silver aren’t magnetic, this quick test will weed out a few plated pieces from real.

2. Search for a Stamp

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Items made from genuine silver are stamped with one of several distinct markings. You might need a magnifying glass to see these tiny stamps, but they’re fairly identifiable once found. Sometimes, the marking will plainly say, “Sterling Silver.” In other cases, you might see a number instead. These values indicate the percentage of silver in the item; for example, 925 indicates 92.5% silver. Finally, there might be a stylized lion marking instead of numbers of words. This emblem has changed slightly over the years, but it’s easily recognizable. If you see any of these three markings, your item will be worth more at a pawn shop.

3. Sight, Smell & Touch

You can learn a lot by examining it with your senses. If a close look at the item reveals peeling, color distortion, or visible layers, it’s plated. Even a sniff can alert you to a fake. Real silver doesn’t have a distinct smell. If you get a whiff of sulfuric or metallic scents, it’s likely fake. Lastly, genuine silver items will have a very smooth texture with no obvious ridges or bumps—unless they’re part of the design.

When you’ve identified which pieces are real silver, head down to Pawn America in Burnsville, MN, for some quick cash. The pawn shop has been buying and selling a variety of goods for nearly 30 years, and their experienced and friendly staff provides the best customer service possible. If you’re unsure of the legitimacy of your items even after doing some tests, a trained team member will conduct an appraisal to get you the price you deserve. Visit the website to browse the pawn shop’s extensive inventory, and call (952) 435-7296 to ask about appraisals.