Any suggestions on how to spot fake silver?

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C.D.'s picture
C.D.
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Any suggestions on how to spot fake silver?

With silver becoming more and more valuable, I'm curious if anyone has good advice for spotting fake silver?  I bought fifteen 10 oz. silver bars a few years ago off eBay (not the smartest idea in hindsight) and I'm a little concerned after reading these articles on counterfitting.  Any good advice to try so I can put my mind at ease?  They are all silvertowne logo with serial number in package as new.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

-C.D.

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LogansRun
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Archemedis

Archemedis Principle.

http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/sci/A0804583.html

Or, you can put frenches mustard on it, heat it slowely and then wipe away.  If it's real silver, it'll leave a dark spot.  You can use silver cleaner to get the spot off. 

Or, balance it on your finger and whack it with a pencil.  It'll sound like a bell if real silver.  If it thuds, it's not real silver.

C.D. wrote:

With silver becoming more and more valuable, I'm curious if anyone has good advice for spotting fake silver?  I bought fifteen 10 oz. silver bars a few years ago off eBay (not the smartest idea in hindsight) and I'm a little concerned after reading these articles on counterfitting.  Any good advice to try so I can put my mind at ease?  They are all silvertowne logo with serial number in package as new.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

-C.D.

C.D.'s picture
C.D.
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Mustard huh? 

Mustard huh?  Interesting...but would that help if it's just silver plated tungsten? I've heard about the ringing before and I'm gonna try that.  I'm curious to know how bullion dealers check the authenticity...

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If You've Got It, Flaunt It

I guess when I do scrape up the money to buy a little silver, I'll be indulging in some French's cuisine instead.

Poet

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LogansRun
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Not cheap

There are less expensive options...that's for sure!  But I spend about 75% of my monthly income on PM's.  So I figured I needed something to confirm the authenticity of the PM's.  And "yes", I've been blessed with having enough money to do what I want, when I want.  But trust me, it was hard earned, and there were times I didn't know whether I'd live to see these days.  

Poet wrote:

I guess when I do scrape up the money to buy a little silver, I'll be indulging in some French's cuisine instead.

Poet

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specific gravity

C.D. wrote:

Mustard huh?  Interesting...but would that help if it's just silver plated tungsten? I've heard about the ringing before and I'm gonna try that.  I'm curious to know how bullion dealers check the authenticity...

I haven't heard of tungsten being used to counterfeit silver.  Gold, yes, but not silver.  Check specific gravities and that will give you your answer. 

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The "mustard" test

The "mustard" test, and other chemical tests will only prove the presence of an outer layer of silver.  They will not reveal a bar that is silver-plated, nor do they allow you to know how pure the alloy is.

The most effective test for metal bars and coins is a simple application of the Archimedes Principle.  When an object is submerged, the volume of displaced liquid is equal to the volume of the object.  From this you calculate the density of the object.  Since each chemical element has a unique density, you will be able to determine whether the density is correct for the object's supposed composition.

First, weigh the piece of metal.  The more accurate the scale, the more accurate your measurements will be.  Preferably you would use a triple-beam gram balance, or electonic scale of equivalent accuracy.

Second, submerge the metal into water and measure the volume of water displaced (or the weight of water displaced, and convert to volume).  Again, the accuracy of your measurements determines the accuracy of the final calculation.

Suppose you have a piece of metal that weighs exactly 1kg, and it displaces 3.25 fl. oz of water (or 95.3 cc).  You simply divide the weight by the volume, and the resulting density is 10.49 grams per square centimeter.  Looking on the periodic table of the elements, we see that only one element has a density of 10.49 g/cc.  The block must be made of pure silver.  On the other hand, suppose that object displaced 107cc of water, making the density only 9.35 g/cc.   You will know immedately that it's not a bar of pure silver (in this case, 25% Ag, 75% Cu).

This test could also reveal the difference between tungsten (19.25 g/cc) and gold (19.30 g/cc) if precise instruments were used.  A 3110g (100 ounces troy) tungsten bar would displace 0.4ml more water than a gold bar of the same weight.  The density measurement would be very difficult with coin-sized pieces of gold, but that is okay, because a coin with a tungsten core would be immediately given away by the fact that it would not ring when flicked into the air.

Note: experienced metal handlers could probably spot a fake silver bar quickly, even without taking precise measurements.  They know how heavy a silver bar is supposed to be for a certain size, and would quickly notice the difference in weight or size.  Also, each alloy makes a certain type of sound when you flip it up in the air or move it around.

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Re: Any suggestions on how to spot fake silver?

Nate's picture
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The problem with methods to

The problem with methods to detect fraud is that they assume the fake bar isn't silver coated AND density matched.  I dumped my bars 10 years ago for that reason and now exclusively buy US junk silver.  Small pieces (dimes thru half dollars) are simply not worth the effort to coat and density match compared to a 100 ounce bar, and the natural wear also is a good indicator.

Nate

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ao
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bars vs. coins

Nate wrote:

The problem with methods to detect fraud is that they assume the fake bar isn't silver coated AND density matched.  I dumped my bars 10 years ago for that reason and now exclusively buy US junk silver.  Small pieces (dimes thru half dollars) are simply not worth the effort to coat and density match compared to a 100 ounce bar, and the natural wear also is a good indicator.

Nate

I concur about getting rid of bars, gold even more so than silver.  They're tempting targets for counterfeiting and more importantly to me, bars are much less liquid than coins. 

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how to spot fake analysts.. - humour

Purely for entertainment purposes.. Kaiser wields clue stick...

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John99
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Once upon a time, there was

Once upon a time, there was another thread like this on CM, and in that thread they had some further links to other products (some from Switzerland) and using ulta sound if memory is correct?

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Nacci
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SGT on fake Silver.

SGT on Fake Silver:  

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