How to Avoid Fake Chinese Sterling Jewelry

Posted by JewelryKind

What is Fake Sterling Silver?

Throughout history, merchants have attempted to swindle their buyers time and time again by selling fake jewelry and Chinese sterling silver has been no exception.
A dupe version of sterling silver has become a wide-spread problem throughout jewelry e-commerce – affecting both retailers and buyers alike. The jewelry is a plated base metal that is being marketed deceitfully as pure sterling silver. Often promoted as “925” (the percent of silver that sterling silver has), these fraudulent jewelry pieces can be found available on numerous websites. Unfortunately, many unknowlegable wearers may purchase fake sterling silver under the impression that they have bought the real thing. While in addition to this, the sales of genuine sterling silver suffer due to the low prices that fake sterling silver can be sold for.

How Can I Identify Between Fake and Real Sterling Silver?

Although knock-off and real sterling silver can both be stamped with the same “925” quality mark (an indication that the entire piece is sterling silver) – there are a few red flags that you can look for before making your purchase.

1. Appearance
Real sterling silver pieces will rarely have an attached quality tag on them. This is because it increases the cost of the piece drastically. Instead, you are more likely to find an in-chain or engraved tag on genuine sterling silver jewelry. Furthermore, authentic silver, even brand new, has a distinguishable greyish color while most fakes are a bright white hue. This is due to their rhodium plating which produces a white shiny finish. If a piece of sterling silver looks too white, it is probably an imitation.

2. Pricing
Additionally, one of the more obvious tip offs of fake sterling silver is its pricing. Silver has a base value, which means that most retailers would not dare sell a sterling silver item below their scrap value. If a price of a piece looks too good to be true, it probably is.

3. Attributes
A humorous yet effective way to determine whether or not your piece is legitimate is to smell it. True 925 sterling silver does not have any detectable smell. If you are able to smell a faint copper odor or a brassy smell, then there is a good chance that it is not real 925 silver. Another great tip to determine the authenticity of a piece is to rub the jewelry with a polishing cloth. If any black marks appear on the cloth upon doing this, then the jewelry is real. True 925 silver oxidizes with air exposure which is precisely why silver has a reputation of tarnishing.

How to Keep From Buying Fake Sterling Silver?

If all else fails, be sure to always ask the merchant questions. That being said, it is important to be prepared with the basic knowledge of sterling silver. Overall, although fake sterling silver is plaguing our jewelry marketplace, you do not have to be a victim of fraudulent buying. By keeping these helpful tips in mind, you will be sure to prevent yourself from purchasing anything that is less than what your dollar is worth.


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  1. Mike

    October 28, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Today’s online jewelry stores, are full of fake or “cheap” Chinese silver jewelry. I have purchased a jewelry piece and after 2 weeks a stone was missing. I think the jewelry stores should think twice when they need to import jewelry pieces. Not to think only at high revenues buying cheap jewelry.

    • Robert Buchanan

      September 4, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      Real jewelry stores don’t buy fakes to sell as real. They also know what is real and what is not

    • jules

      August 16, 2018 at 9:56 pm

      Even in Mexico you are fooled by cheap crap false silver…beware…

  2. Kerrie k

    April 14, 2017 at 6:54 am

    I have purchased several pieces of sterling silver .925 from China merchants. They definitely are glossier then sterling silver. They do not tarnish as the normal sterling silver we are accustomed to in the US. However I took my pieces to a pawn shop for inspection to see if they would pass and if they would pay for them. They passed every inspection including the magnetic testing. My guess is that since sterling silver needs to be 92.5% genuine silver that the Chinese may actually have found another metal alloy which they may be mixing with the silver which gives it that shiny coat and more tarnish resistant. Or that they have found another medal which reacts to testing the same as sterling silver. I’m doubtful that is rhodium as I have purchase authentic sterling silver in the US and had it rhodium coated to avoid tarnishing paid extra for it as it was said to be dipped in white gold plating. I would never ask for white gold dip Sterling ever again as it tarnished extremely fast. That may just have been a not-so-good merchant. However, rhodium plating is expensive in the US, far more expensive than purchasing the jewelry already rhodium plated from China. So it doesn’t make sense to me that they would choose rhodium. So since they need not disclose the other 2.5% metal we can only guess what it might be that they are using.⭐

  3. Betty Joe Pea

    July 27, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    What if you buying Sterling Silver on line and don’t realize it till later. Tophatter is letting seller sell fake Sterling Silver to buyers, what do I do?

    • Cathy L

      October 30, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Tophatter and also Wish – A few years ago I bought a couple pieces and they were fine. Over the last 2 months I bought several from Wish and every single one of them had the “925” mark and were not magnetic. Within 2 weeks the “silver” rubbed off off ALL of them . I guess ” you get what you pay for” is still true indeed.
      I did send pictures to Wish and they actually did refund me.

      • Dora

        September 26, 2018 at 5:39 am

        Did you have to send the merchandise back as well. Or have to send pics of the jewelry?

      • Marylou

        September 28, 2018 at 8:43 am

        Omg I just bought some silver rings on wish and they had 925 on them , I just hope they are fake

        • Marylou

          September 28, 2018 at 8:43 am

          Are not fake

    • Cheron

      May 13, 2018 at 5:45 am

      The Chinese sellers have also taken to selling fake stuff on eBay. The sellers have addresses in the USA so you think they are legit, but they are just drop points that Chinese sellers can use to appear to be in the USA and to try to speed up their shipping time. The one on the East Coast is in Brooklyn, NY, and the one on the West Coast is in Walnut, CA. You’ll notice a lot of cheap sellers are all from the same USA city because they are actually in China.

  4. Cathy L

    October 30, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    Tophatter and also Wish – A few years ago I bought a couple pieces and they were fine. Over the last 2 months I bought several from Wish and every single one of them had the “925” mark and were not magnetic. Within 2 weeks the “silver” rubbed off off ALL of them . I guess ” you get what you pay for” is still true indeed.
    I did send pictures to Wish and they actually did refund me.

  5. Tara Kelley

    December 1, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Is there any kind of recourse from people selling fake jewelry marked as .925, due to some people having allergies, etc? I feel like this should be illegal in some form or fashion…

  6. Lola

    January 15, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    I have a bracelet that was given to me awhile back…its been sitting in my j/box , I can’t seem to want to wear it unless I know what kind of metal it is… My question is…is there a sterling silver that is dark grey in color? and I ‘m not talking about when it turns / tarnishes. I thought it needed a good cleaning but the color stays ‘grey’…it doesn’t stick to magnets and it does have the 925 mark…Any ideas on what kind of metal it is? would appreciate any response. Gracias, Lola

  7. Dan Chabert

    May 3, 2018 at 3:14 am

    Hi Jewelry Kind Editing / Marketing Team,

    Good day!

    I noticed that you guys take on sponsors/donators – I’m interested in purchasing some space, I think it would be a great fit for both our websites!

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  8. Rusty

    May 14, 2018 at 1:27 am

    There appears to be a lot of genuine sterling silver jewelry on the market at the moment which is rhodium plated. This practise is not new. Rhodium plating was often used on sterling marcasite jewelry in the 50s and 60s also.

    Today’s young buyer often wants this shiny look and not the patina of sterling silver once sort after.

    So the test of whether it is shiny white looking doesnt work necessarily. Rhodium plating also illiminates the “sniff” test as you would only be smelling the plating.

    Rhodium plating can not be considered as a definitive sign of fake sterling silver. Correct?

  9. Jonh Liu

    May 28, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    This is a great post. Our customers are facing those barriers, too. By the way, if you are looking for sterling silver jewelry supplier in China, please search for “silverbene”

  10. Corina Hall

    June 20, 2018 at 12:13 am

    I’ve just started getting into buying jewerly from wish and it says it’s 925 And don’t stick to a magnet im fixing to start selling jewerly so I’ve spent alot of money with wish and most is 925 but is there any way possible I can find out if it’s real cause I don’t wanna start a business under false advertisement I’ve rubbed it on cloth it leaves the black mark however a few weeks ago I ordered myself a ring from wish wore it twice for about 5 hours each time and last time it left a black ring around my finger and had faded like a gold or copper color under i I don’t know what to do cause now I’ve got all this jewelry and alot of money invested and don’t know whether to advertise as 925 stearling silver or custom jewelry what should I do to find out if what I have is the real 925 stearling silver or fake please help

    • Maureen

      August 19, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      It is truly junk. It is not sterling or real silver at all. Don’t let buyers be duped. If you sell and use PayPal as payment method you will have claim after claim and it is fraud. Making a buck is not worth it. To me it’s blatant theft.

  11. Caitriona Lui

    September 12, 2018 at 5:06 am

    Hello Dear. You have shared a nice blog. Day by day jewellery is increasing its popularity. But a dupe version of sterling silver has become a wide-spread problem throughout jewellery which affects both retailers and buyers. They sell jewellery to people at a low price and fool them. So before buying people must have some knowledge about fake jewellery or real. These are some tricks to know the difference between real and fake.

    1. Appearance
    2. Pricing
    3. Attributes.

    By keeping these helpful tips in mind, you will prevent yourself from purchasing fake jewellery. Last month I purchased Mens Silver Jewelry for my brother from the best online jewellery site Jewelry1000, which provides 100% pure jewellery at affordable prices.

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