How to Identify Silver Jewelry

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Silver is a white, lustrous metal that has long been used in the manufacture of coins, ornaments and jewelry. Silver is classified as one of the precious metals and is valuable in its pure form. However, there are many silver impostors, especially among pieces of jewelry. Many common metals can impersonate the look of silver, such as nickel and cubic zirconium. Luckily, there is a way to tell if a piece of jewelry is, in fact, pure silver.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Dropper French's mustard Piece of supposed silver jewelry Cigarette lighter Vinegar Soft cloth

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  1. 1

    Fill the dropper with French's mustard. Just a teaspoon is fine, for only one drop of mustard is required.

  2. 2

    Drip one drop of French's mustard onto the piece of jewelry to be tested for silver.

  3. 3

    Heat the drop of mustard on the piece of jewelry with a cigarette lighter. Hold the flame close enough to the drop of mustard to heat it without burning the jewelry.

  4. 4

    Note the reaction of the jewelry to the heated mustard. If a dark, black stain forms on the jewelry, the piece is silver. French's brand of mustard contains a high content of sulfur that when heated and combined with silver, will always produce the dark, black stain known as silver sulfide.

  5. 5

    Remove the stain by applying vinegar to the silver and rinsing it away with a soft cloth.

Tips and warnings

  • Place the jewelry with a drop of mustard on it in the sun and allow it to heat that way if you would rather not use a cigarette lighter.
  • Allow the heated piece of jewelry to cool before attempting to touch or clean it with vinegar to avoid burns.

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