Over the past couple of months, Stebgo has increasingly seen higher silver percentages within some of our client’s karat gold scrap job assays. A typical karat gold lot will have roughly 7-10% silver content as part of the regular alloy composition for karat gold jewelry. Some of the recent assays are yielding 17-20% silver.
We always try to catch “fake” stamped jewelry before putting karat scrap through the melting process, but it’s not possible to look through every piece. We rely on checking each lot with strong magnets, and sometimes we are able to identify obvious non-karat material.
We think this recent rise in high silver assays are likely the result of heavy plated gold over silver due to several factors:
- The lots are not coming up magnetic.
- The lots look and feel like karat gold (silver has close to the same density as gold).
- Some consistent and reliable client’s lots have had higher than normal silver assays. This leads us to believe the pieces are stamped karat gold (10k, 14k, etc).
What can you do to catch this material before you buy it?
1. Rubbing jewelry on a stone and applying acid to the marking is a common practice when purchasing jewelry. The problem with this method is that you may only be rubbing off a thin layer, and in heavily plated jewelry it may not go deep enough to catch the inner metals. For suspect items, we always recommend getting permission from your seller to file deeply into the jewelry you are testing and then applying your acid directly to the item. If you are using straight nitric acid, base metals will turn the acid a green color. Silver will turn it a milky white color. On true karat gold, the nitric acid will remain clear, and slowly turn a slight brownish color on 10k.
2. Keep an eye out for sellers with larger amounts of jewelry. Ask some extra questions about the origins and be diligent about needing to file into the material. If they refuse to allow you to test it with extra caution, it’s better to be safe than get burned.
3. If it is stamped as karat jewelry but is testing as silver, it’s best to tell the potential seller that it is a fraudulent stamp, and you can only purchase it for the silver content as it is not truly karat gold. You can also try to get a photo of the piece for documentation, and please consider alerting Stebgo and others to get the word out. Awareness is the best way to end these strings of potential fraudulent activity.
If you have any further questions, you can reach Stebgo at (651) 451-8888.