Genuine silver jewelry indicators include hallmark, 925 stamp, price, patina, and dealer reputation.
Hallmark is a designer’s initial or logo and usually indicates a higher quality piece but does not necessarily mean it is genuine silver jewelry. Hallmarks can be forged. In England, Goldsmiths Hall has controlled the quality of silver since the 14th century. Every piece of silver must pass through the Assay Office for quality control and for symbols to be stamped on every piece with the year and manufacturer. Silver hallmarking eliminates false hallmarks. The different hallmarks are an interesting study by itself for silver pieces manufactured in London, Edinburgh, and Ireland.
Genuine sterling silver will have a composition of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent of a combination of other metals such as copper or brass. According to United States law, Sterling should be stamped with 925 and a U.S. registered trademark of the company to verify the mark. A rare piece of genuine silver jewelry could be as high as 1000 so the higher the number, the more silver it contains. Only pure silver can be marked with .999.
Genuine silver jewelry will have a commensurate price. Look for a fair price in genuine silver jewelry. A price that is too low may be an indication that it is not genuine sterling silver. You will want to compare prices for authenticity and workmanship.
Patina or shininess of the genuine silver jewelry is another indicator. Genuine silver jewelry’s exposure to oxygen causes it to tarnish.
Reputation of seller is a consideration. Does the seller sell genuine silver jewelry and is it priced fairly?
The best test for genuine silver jewelry is to rub the piece between your fingers and then smell the piece. Real sterling silver does not have a smell. If it has a smell at all, then it is not genuine silver jewelry.