Metal Testing Service: How to Identify Your Jewelry

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Whether it’s a fresh buy off Ebay that you’re not too sure about, a family heirloom that’s a strange color, or a vintage piece you snagged from a thrift shop, you might be itching to see if the item you have is a real gem. But appraisal services are expensive, and you don’t want to shell out money to examine the piece if it’s going to be costume jewelry. So what do you do? Get a metal test, of course! Read on to learn more about how a metal testing service can help you out.

Is My Jewelry “Real?”

We hear this question a lot. What you’re really asking is if your jewelry is genuinely considered “fine” or “precious.” Anything made out of solid sterling silver, gold, and platinum is considered high-quality fine jewelry.

More experienced jewelry lovers know to check an item for a stamp, such as 925 for sterling silver, 10k/14k/18k for gold, and PLAT/950 for platinum. However, sometimes stamps can be misleading or even incorrect, so how can you really determine if your item is fine jewelry? You’ll have to get the metal chemically tested.

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The Process of Metal Testing

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When you bring your item in to a jeweler for metal testing, they’ll get out a little slate and scratch your item on it. Don’t worry- it won’t damage your item at all.

The remaining streak left behind on the slate from your jewelry is then used for chemical testing. Using a series of chemical compounds, the jeweler gauges the liquid’s reaction to the streak left on the slate. If it turns a certain color and so on, the jeweler will be able to figure out what metal your item is made out of.

Of course, this test isn’t entirely foolproof for items that are gold-plated or gold-fill, as these pieces of jewelry have a layer of gold on top that will affect the streak test. But the jeweler can examine the piece more closely with a jeweler’s loupe to look at the stamps. In addition, years of experience allows the jeweler to determine if the item is solid or not based on factors such as weight and wear.

Metal Testing Vs. Appraisal

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This appraisal was done for a client’s ring by our gemologist.

You might be wondering why you should opt for a metal test instead of an appraisal. A metal is quick, inexpensive, and can be done immediately on the spot. It won’t give you any direct answers in regards to stones set in the ring, but as a general rule you can guess to the average quality of stones set in an item if the metal is inexpensive and non-precious (such as copper or brass.)

An appraisal is a full-on service provided by a professional gemologist who runs the piece of jewelry through several different chemical and physical tests to evaluate the stones. This service provides a certificate of retail value as assessed by the gemologist. In contrast to metal testing, it can easily range from $75 to $95 and is used for insurance purposes for pieces of very fine jewelry.

If you’re not sure of the value of your item, it makes no sense to dump $75 on appraising something that could be worth $15! A metal test is a preliminary step in the right direction for you to determine if your item is actually worth something.

Now you’re all set on metal testing! If you’d like to get started with our metal testing service, comment below and we can help you out.

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