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Sterling silver is not magnetic. It does not include any ferromagnetic metals that get attracted by magnets. Silver, a pure precious metal, is also not attracted by magnetic fields.
But, why do these questions arise?
- Why is my silver jewelry magnetic?
- Will a magnet stick to sterling silver?
- Can sterling silver be magnetic?
You would not want your jewelry to get attracted by magnets, obviously.
But, sometimes the unexpected can happen.
Let’s find out why below.
What is sterling silver?
Sterling silver is a silver alloy with 92.5% purity. The remaining 7.5% part comes from cheaper base metals like copper.
Neither of these metals, nor their mix is magnetic.
What are ferromagnetic metals?
Ferromagnetism is the physical property indicating certain materials get attracted by magnets or form permanent magnets.
The common ferromagnetic metals and alloys are iron, cobalt, nickel and most of their alloys, and with some compounds of rare earth metals like neodymium and samarium.
Refrigerator doors, pins and needles in the sewing box or paperclips on your desk are all steel items which we can attach magnets.
Neodymium magnets are a famous example for the latter case. There are many versions with different sizes, shapes and colors available
Metals that are not magnetic include gold, silver, copper, aluminum and more.
Obviously, jewelry should not be magnetic and remain intact in magnetic fields.
Why is my sterling silver magnetic? Is it fake?
Not so fast. You should not conclude that your sterling piece is fake just because it shows a “little” attraction.
Here are the 3 major possibilities:
1. Nickel presence in the piece
Your jewelry may include a little more than usual nickel or iron, which causes the magnetism.
You’d want your pieces nickel-free to avoid skin allergies.
Nickel is the first element that causes metal hypersensitivity.
Thus, avoiding such alloys is a simple choice to stay safe.
Besides preventing skin irritation, preferring non-nickel alloys removes the magnetic effects of it.
If your sterling jewelry is attracted by a magnet, small amount of nickel in the mix may be the cause.
This nickel presence in the alloy may come from copper, used to increase durability.
High quality sterling jewelry is produced with nickel-free copper and other additions.
Pick your jewelry from high quality nickel-free designs to stay safe from allergies and magnetism!
2. Silver plated items
Sterling silver jewelry is the same metal alloy in and out, as we saw above.
However, there are silver plated items too on the market.
These have a cheaper metal base plated with a 925 silver layer.
This type of jewelry product is more affordable as the core is not a precious metal alloy.
Only when this coating of silver wears off, the inner metal comes under daylight.
This may cause a change in appearance and possible skin allergies from metals that are not hypoallergenic.
If your piece is plated, then the inner alloy may have ferromagnetic properties coming from iron, cobalt or other metals.
This part may get attracted when put next to a magnet.
Check whether your item is sterling silver or sterling silver-plated before deciding if it is fake or not.
3. Not sterling silver
If your jewelry does not meet the sterling silver standards, it may be magnetic.
Does it have the sterling silver stamps of the silversmith like “SS”, “STERLING”, “925 SILVER” or “.925”?
In this case, there might be an unintended serious mistake or deceptive aim in marketing a non-sterling product as genuine 925 silver.
Your piece might not be real sterling silver jewelry.
How to test for sterling silver at home
While there are other ways to check authenticity, the best and most simple way is to a magnet!
Fridge magnets may be weaker with a wider are to hold on the stainless steel door.
So, if possible, use a magnet from your sewing set which does attract needles or a more powerful neodymium magnet.
If you observe an attraction despite having all the authentic sterling hallmarks, you have good reason to question the origin of your jewelry.
If you are suspicious of your sterling silver chains getting attracted by a magnet, or you are questioning the content of silver in your sterling ring, you should not jump to the conclusion that they are fake.
First, we should clear the confusion silver vs sterling silver.
Silver is a pure metal while sterling is an alloy of it.
Solid silver is too soft for jewelry. Thus, we use different types of silver alloys like argentium, 835, 850 silver and sterling silver.
These are real silver mixed with additional metals to bring up the durability of jewelry.
Genuine sterling silver includes 92.5% silver in its mix. The rest comes from copper and other base metals.
This latter part helps to increase strength and durability for everyday use.
Fine silver is a soft malleable metal not durable enough for jewelry and silverware.
Thanks to this addition, silver becomes a suitable jewelry material.
Neither silver nor copper are ferromagnetic.
They do not get attracted by magnets.
If your silver chain gets attracted by a magnet, you should think something fishy is going on right away.
Even if it is authentic sterling silver, it may include a small amount of magnetic metals like nickel.
This nickel presence may come with copper in the mix.
Another possibility is your piece being silver plated.
These items have a different core covered with silver.
This cheap jewelry may have iron or nickel in the mix, which gets attracted by a nearby magnetic field.
Lastly, if a piece shows serious magnetic interaction despite having been sold, marketed as 925 silver and showing sterling hallmarks, that product might be a counterfeit item.