How to Tell the Difference Between Silver, White Gold and Platinum

If you go shopping at antique malls or estate sales, you will discover a number of items for sale that are made of gray metal. How can you tell if they are made of silver, white gold or platinum?

It isn’t always easy to tell with the naked eye, but here are some telltale indications to keep in mind.

Tarnish

Can you tell the difference between platinum, silver and white Gold?

Can you tell the difference between platinum, silver and white Gold?

If you see white/gray tarnish on the surface of the item, it is made of silver. It’s just as simple as that, because silver tarnishes and needs to be polished and platinum jewelry and white gold do not.

Gemstones

If you are looking at a piece of jewelry in which precious stones have been set, you are almost certainly looking at platinum or white gold, not silver. That’s because jewelers would not bother to set diamonds, rubies or other precious stones in silver jewelry. Silver jewelry does exist of course, but most often in the form of rings, bracelets, and pins that either do not have gemstones, or which are adorned with lower cost stones like turquoise, hematite, obsidian or amber.

Stampings and Markings

Any stamped markings on an item (sometimes called “hallmarks”) will indicate its metallic content. (For an online reference of silver stampings and marks, visit www.925-1000.com.) If you find a marking that contains the letters PT, Pt or Plat, you have found an item that is made of platinum. If you see a karat marking like K or k, usually accompanied by a number, the item is made of white gold. If you do not see any markings, what does that mean? There could be several reasons. First, the item could have been made in a country where hallmarks (metal stampings) were not required. Second, the item could be quite old, dating from a time when markings were not required. Third, the item could have been made by a semi-professional craftsperson, which usually means that the item is made of silver, not platinum or white gold. Amateur silversmiths are much more common than amateur jewelers who work in gold or platinum.

And if you still cannot tell . . .

Call one of our qualified precious metals consultants today at 800-426-2344. We are here to help you turn your precious metal discoveries into dollars.

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