Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Platinum



Dear Thomas,
I recently inherited a necklace that I was always told was platinum, it has multiple small chains, each small link soldered shut, no openings anywhere, and then larger 'beads' interspersed along each chain. When I took it into a local jeweler he said that it wasn't platinum because he could "shine up" a bead piece just by rubbing it between his fingers. He also did an acid test (not in my view) and from what he was saying it sounded more like he did a test with silver testing acid (I'm no expert but I do invest a bit in precious metals and have learned some about acid testing). I walked away feeling unsure about the answer I received. The necklace is very old and has NO markings on it. I know from experience that if a piece is marked it is almost automatically taken to be what the mark says, however I've seen this over and over not to be true. I've had marked pieces come up to be nothing and unmarked to be something. How can I get a good correct answer. I'd like to insure the necklace if it is platinum (it weighs 52 grams). Any suggestions, or am I just not wanting to face the truth! Thank You for any help.

Dear Kristin,

The shine up with a finger rub proves what? As far as I am concerned, that proves nothing but that possibly surfaced dirt or oil was removed, or he had lotion on his fingers that left the piece shinier...who knows. I throw "testing" of that sort out the window. There is simply too much speculation and too many variables involved.

Go to another jeweler. What you need is an acid test or electronic metals test, while you witness the procedure.  If you show curiosity most jewelers, appraisers or buyers will not mind you watching. However, it they believe you are suspicious of their honesty they will likely. react differently.

The test I really prefer is non destructive and generally done openly, even if you may not be sure of what is going on.  This uses an x-ray fluorescence spectrograph machine, generally a hand held "gun". Where are these devices used?  High volume metal purchasers use this type of testing and high volume often means metal scrap in scrap yards!  Here in my area the local scrap yard saw a chance to get in on new business when precious metals prices started rising a few years ago and got into the "we buy gold" part of the business. The only needed their machine calibrated for precious metals to render quite accurate tests in a totally non-destructive manner. I suggest you call around to see who might use small scale x-ray spectrograph testing and ask if they will test your necklace.   They might charge for doing the test or test it for free and offer to buy the necklace for scrap rate, an offer you may certainly refuse with, "Thank you. I will keep it."  I will be the guy in line at the local scrap yard with all my metal in my hand...everyone else is there with a truck full of scrap! Call first and ask.

Acid testing and some other in-house tests are not designed to prove what a sample IS but show what is  IS NOT. It is a process of elimination and what is left is likely what you have. The following is an "off the wall, out of the box" means of eliminating platinum(and gold for that matter) from possible metals for the necklace:

One thing you can do if you are willing to spend a few dollars on liver of sulfur is this: Liver of sulfur is a chemical commonly used by silversmiths and jewelry hobbyists to put an "antique" or patina coloration on silver and copper alloys.  A small touch of liquid will produce a dark antique, starting with yellow and going to almost black on the metal. If your are fortunate, there might be a local arts center where jewelry making is taught. Liver of sulfur is sure to be on the shelves. A local jeweler might do this for you then polish away the antique color, too.  Otherwise, try the net for jewelry making supplies or simply search for liver of sulfur.  Other kinds of antiquing solutions will invalidate this experiment.  Why does it work? If the metal gets a patina from the solution, you may be sure the metal is NOT platinum.  This will not prove it is silver but will certainly eliminate platinum.

Kristin, I have seen platinum necklaces quite similar to your necklace. Initial thoughts are generally gathered from the weight in the hand and the appearance of the surface. Platinum is substantially heavier than silver of the same sort of construction. The surface of an older item is generally more dull than shiny, that is if worn an not just stored away for all those years.  You really have to see this to understand the visual differences. Still, accurate testing is what you need. Use the chemical mentioned to immediately eliminate platinum or find another jeweler or good scrap yard to test the necklace.  Those are your options.

For the necklace to be insured, should it be platinum, you need an appraisal from a certified appraiser. Find and estate jewelry seller/buyer who does appraisals or a local jeweler with certifications. Certification means GIA in the least.  The store should have the decency to tell you if the item tests to be silver and is likely not worth having a full appraisal done. However, they may charge for the initial testing.  Depending on where you live, finding credentials beyond GIA may be difficult,however, do look and ask. Go to the following web page to see three symbols of accreditation in appraisal services, not just a gemological education:

Kristin, I hope it is platinum. If so, this will certainly need insurance and will be a treasured heirloom.  Thanks so much for the good photos; image help more than one might imagine( and imagine is what I must do when there are no photos!).

Get back with me if you need to do that. God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.  

Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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