How to Buy Silver

How to Buy Silver

When it comes to jewelry, a good number of people want nice pieces to rock. However, they either don’t want to spend a fortune on a single piece, are allergic to gold or plain simple fancy the look of silver over gold.

Because let’s face it, silver is gorgeous and valuable, albeit more affordable.

Problem is, there are different types of silver on the market and you could end up buying crappy jewelry thinking it is genuine silver, otherwise known as sterling silver.

Sterling silver items have 92.5% purity with the other percentage made of copper or another metal such as zinc or nickel. The essence is to make it harder and more durable because pure silver (with 100% purity) is soft and wouldn’t make for good jewelry.

Here is a simple guide on how to buy silver jewelry.

Look for the Hallmark

Sterling silver is almost always stamped with the number 925, .925 or 92.5. This is one way to tell it is the real deal, and anything less than that may not retain its original color.

Some countries may use different standards, so be sure first before making a purchase.

In some instances, you might also find the words “Ster”, “Sil”, “Sterling” or “Sterling Silver” engraved on the piece. Older sterling silver may also contain specific images which you can search online to orient yourself with.

Unfortunately, some dubious characters are putting these marks on fake jewelry with counterfeit online sellers shipping out junk. This is why you should always buy from a reputable source and avoid deals that sound too good to be true, including those from China.

Watch for the Word “Plated”

If you’re in the market for genuine silver, the word “plated” should have you bolting out and never turning back.

This implies the jewelry is just coated to give it a silver look, with the piece itself made from a cheaper metal.

Test for Quality Construction

Check the strength of the clasp to ascertain it is secure, but not hard to open. Lay the necklace or bracelet on a flat surface to check for kinks (there should be none) and whether or not it twists easily. Earring posts should also be straight and not bend easily.

New sterling silver jewelry should be shiny without tarnish. If it is used (but genuine), chances are it could need some cleaning to bring out the shine, a necessary requirement for all silver jewelry.

Buying Options

Silver jewelry is sold by many vendors – jewelry stores, booths, independent designers, department stores, and online retailers and vendors. If you are open to second-hand pieces, you also have the option of thrift stores, antique stores and flea markets.

Remember that independent jewelers are often cheaper than department stores for obvious reasons like cutting out the middleman.

  • Purchasing from a Physical Store

If you are purchasing from a physical store, pay the vendor a visit and inspect the different pieces available. Check for the hallmark and test all clasps and backing. If the jewelry is small in size and you want to be sure, ask the store for a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loop. You know, just to be sure.

silver jewelry

Enquire about the details of the jewelry – who the designer is, what metals the jewelry is made of and where the hallmark is engraved if you are not able to see it clearly. If the vendor is worth their salt, s/he should be able to answer all these questions, and obligingly so.

Also, ask about the store’s return policy which should be provided in writing. The vendor should also provide proof of authenticity.

Once you make the purchase, retain all the documentation – proof of authenticity, return policy, care instructions and receipts.

  • Purchasing Online

If you are buying silver jewelry online, make it a point of reaching the website to make sure the dealer is a reputable one.

Details of the item should be provided in full – a comprehensive description, measurements and details regarding metal composition. Photos illustrating the jewelry from different angles should also be provided, including a clear shot of the stamp.

Don’t forget to read through the return policy.

Unless you are making the purchase from big sites like Amazon or eBay, make sure the website is secure before keying in your personal details. Look for “HTTPS” on the URL – some have it on the checkout page – or the symbol of a locked padlock on the address bar.

Finally, purchase and track your order, complete with all the documentation.

Speaking of eBay, there is always the risk of being sold fake jewelry in the name of sterling silver. For this reason, always opt for sellers with a high rating and good track record before making your purchase.


Follow these guidelines when buying sterling silver to avoid falling prey to dubious sellers.

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