Dating german silver hallmarks


  base metal--coated with silver by electroplating.  NOTE--often by doing
an examination with your loupe you can determine that the piece in question is plated.

 The base metal will show through where repairs have been made or there has been a lot of wear. Areas that have lost the plating may be a different color or duller than those still plated. 5. Sterling Silver: % silver--925 parts silver and 75 parts copper--can be marked     "925" or "sterling"    
  TESTING
  A way of determining if an item is silver is to use a testing kit. These are available from most jewelry supply houses. Some kits are designed for testing both silver and gold.  Most kits contain solutions which have nitric acid in them. Therefore, be careful not to get the solution on your hands and remember to perform tests in a well ventilated area. Usually there is a glass rod (which does not react to the acid) you can use for dropping the solution onto the item. Be sure to ask for and receive directions on how to use the kit.  Test on a cleaned area of the piece.  Be aware that if the piece has a lacquer finish this will prevent the solution from reacting with the metal.  Also, some kits' directions instruct you to use a file to brighten the area.  This, as well as notching out an area , will damage the piece. After applied, the solution will change colors if there is silver present.  In kits that have a yellow colored solution (colors may vary between manufacturers) it will change from yellow to shades of red when in contact with silver. A deep burgundy color indicates sterling.  A cloudy pale reddish color means there is silver but less than sterling's %. If the solution does not change color you probably do not have a silver item. Always do testing on an inconspicuous area because sometimes the solution may discolor the jewelry and leave a "testing mark",  As soon as you see a color change wipe the solution off of the piece with a soft cloth. Then, use a rouge cloth to repolish the tested area back to its original finish.  I learned from Christie Romero that you can usually avoid leaving a "testing mark" by reducing the time the solution is on the piece.  to do this, apply the solution to the jewelry and then quickly wipe it off with a white tissue or paper towel.  Now look at the paper for your test results. You can become accurate and confident when identifying silver. Handle a lot of it so you can depend on and trust your identifications. Even well-meaning people can give you incorrect information. Determine the identification yourself. Once you develop and follow a set routine you will discover it is not very time consuming and well worth the effort. Examine each piece the same way and ask yourself the same questions each time so you will not overlook anything. Sheryl Gross Shatz, Certified Gemologist, S. C. C. , wrote, What's It Made Of? A Jewelry Materials Identification Guide , to assist students, dealers and collectors. For over twenty years she has evaluated and priced jewelry that has been donated to charities. Her article, "Endangered Species Jewelry", appeared in Jeweler's Circular Keystone - Heritage, May 1998, and another article, "What's It Made Of?, Identifying Antique and Vintage Jewelry Materials", will appear in the April 1999 issue of JCK.

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Dating german silver hallmarks

Dating german silver hallmarks