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Silver Collector Forums

what is antique silver?

As i am a novice at this i would appreciate any help/insight i could get on the subject of antique silver.
I have bought several pieces of jewellery termed as antique silver. I would like to know what does this term mean. I believe its a terminology for anything that looks like silver that could be solid, silver, sterling , silver plate etc and has a certain age to it?
Below are some jewellery i have which fall into this category. With the exception of the last one all others are not hallmarked, the big Mary has initials within the frame. The last one is not hallmarked either but has a punch at the bail which i believe means its 800 french silver.
Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Also if you could tell me how to clean these items i would be grateful.

Many thanks

You are effectively asking 2 questions here: “What does antique mean?” and “What constitutes silver?”

The generally accepted definition for antique is “over 100 years old” so hallmarks can be very useful by giving an exact age. Silver plate and other undated items have to be judged on style and judgement of the “correct” use of antique may come down to a matter of opinion.

“Silver” should only be applied to solid silver, not silver plate and certainly never to nondescript white metals and pewter. In fact in the UK it used to be illegal to apply the word silver in sales of anything less than sterling (.925) fineness. It is now acceptable to describe lower quality silver such as your 800 French piece as silver.

Putting these 2 answers together will define (at least in my opinion) “antique silver”.

Use a normal silver polish to clean your jewellery. If any are not silver you can’t do any harm.

Thanks for your reply, very informative :smiley:
Indeed the term antique silver should be used when an item is silver and antique. My confusion arose due to the fact that these pieces of jewellery do not look like silver (i.e no hallmark,punchmark etc) but were presented as such,
Is there any test that i can perform at home to check if the jewellery is silver or otherwise?
Also I have a 950 silver ring with embossed decoration that i have tried repeatedly to clean with silver cleaning solution to no avail though.

Thank you
D :astonished:

Hi, you can tell if your item is silver by putting a tiny drop of diluted bleach in a discrete area of the piece, please be very careul when you try this. It should turn a creamy colour if it’s .925 silver. There are also testing kits which you can buy from ‘online auction sites’ . I’m currently making a website explaining all aspects of silver, going through the hallmarks and the makers, It’s still in the process of being made but it will have some useful information on there. Why not check it out?
It should be in my ‘signature’

Thanks for your reply,
i will give your suggestion a try. Will check your wesbite too.
D :slight_smile: