Last weekend Mark and I were up at the swap meet in Marysville, Washington. While there we ran into some jewelry where the price...well, it was just right. This is one of the necklaces we bought, marked Mex 925. Mexico sterling, right? Wrong.
It was not until I went to edit the photos taken that I noticed that something might not add up. I was seeing a warm brassy color in my photos and that should not be the case. I took a closer look...a much closer look.
It turns out that this necklace is brass with a copper plate and then a silverplate. It was not sterling at all even though it is marked sterling. It's tough to realize that one cannot rely on the stamps.
So, what clues did we miss when we bought it? In retrospect, there were several. Hopefully, you can learn through our errors...
- The clasp itself was not marked. One would not put a non-sterling clasp on a sterling necklace. Both the chain and the clasp should be marked. This should have been a dead give-a-way. Sometimes, when buying you skip some steps and don't realize until later that you should have been a bit more thorough.
- The topside of the necklace is in excellent condition with no wear. Even the backside is very good. The point that we did not see, or did not check was the bottom side at the back of the neck, near the clasp. This is the point where it wears and it is one of the most important areas to check.
Jewelry that is made to deceive the public is cheaply made. The point is to make quick money and do it fast. Just knowing that will get you a long ways.
I have seen jewelry claiming to be sterling out of China. I have seen it even when it is not marked China. I occasionally have seen it out of Mexico but that is not nearly as common. The rule of thumb is to NOT believe everything you read.
Look for poorly crafted parts such as clasps and finishes that are not completely smooth. For stamped pieces look at the quality of the stamp. Sterling jewelry is good quality and therefore everything about it should be good. If it's not, it is a red flag.