One thing I hate is scammers out to con you into shelling out hard-earned money for counterfeit silver coins. Unfortunately, this happens way too often, and so I’ve put this blog together to go through some surefire ways to determine whether coins and bullion are real silver…or just not.
It’s no joke. Real silver is one of the best investments around. Fake silver is worthless, infuriating, and sometimes expensive.
To (hopefully) spare you from the pain of discovering fake silver for yourself, I went ahead and bought a bunch of “silver” coins from the notorious wish.com. I’m going to show you exactly how we can test these coins for their silver content, and ensure you never get caught out by coin charlatans ever again.
And, if you want to skip the step of testing and buy with assurance each time, I’ve put together my Buying Guide for coins and currency for precisely this reason.
Now, let’s see how much useless metal I actually have.
Tools of the trade
To authenticate your silver coins, you’re going to need a few tools:
- A neodymium magnet
- A digital scale,
- A digital calliper set or a standard ruler
- A reference guide such as the Krause book or US red book.
You can buy all of these on Amazon. With these in hand, you are ready to examine your coin for authenticity. Let’s break down the process into three basic tests: the magnet test, the weight test, and the dimensions test.
How to Spot Fake Silver Coins
1. The Magnet Test
Silver and gold are not magnetic. Thus, if your coin sticks to a neodymium magnet, it’s not genuine. For instance, when I tested a fake American Silver Eagle Bull Round, it clung to the magnet— a clear sign that it was a counterfeit.
While the magnet test tells us that a coin is not silver, it doesn’t tell us whether a coin is actually silver. For that, let’s jump over to the next test.
2. The Weight Test
Precise digital scales are instrumental in determining a coin’s authenticity. Using one of the reference guides above, you can easily see how much a particular coin is supposed to weigh if real.
Always cross-check the weight of your coin with a reliable reference. For instance, a Morgan Silver dollar should weigh 26.73 grams. Note that a real coin that’s had some of the metal worn away over the years might show up to be slightly underweight, and that’s OK. But a significant deviation from this weight is a red flag.
Before we can be completely satisfied that a coin is silver, it needs to pass all of our tests.
Which brings us to:
3. The Dimensions Test
The final step in our process is the dimensions test. By using a digital calliper set, you can measure the diameter and thickness of your coin. If your coin’s measurements differ significantly from the standard specifications for that coin, it’s probably a fake.
To illustrate, a real Krugerrand should have a diameter of 32.7mm and a thickness of 2.85mm. If your coin is significantly larger or smaller than these dimensions, it’s likely not genuine.
Please note: a coin must pass all three tests to be considered genuine. Failure in just one test deems the coin a counterfeit.
Something to remember
The above tests primarily confirm the authenticity of the silver in the coin. Some counterfeiters may use actual silver to produce fake numismatic coins. That’s why it’s crucial to pay close attention to the design, lettering, and overall quality when assessing numismatic coins.
And remember, while you don’t want to get duped into buying fake silver, you don’t want to miss out on some old silver coins that hold real value. It’s important to know what to look for.
Where to buy real silver coins
If you want to skip the testing and just make purchases safe in the knowledge that what you’re buying is the real deal, look no further than Apmex. You don’t get the reputation Apmex has without an unwavering commitment to quality – there are no magnetic American Silver Eagles anywhere near this site.
I buy a lot of my bullion coins from Apmex. And, if I smell an opportunity, I’ll turn to Whatnot and see what I can get at one of their online auctions. You can get $15 of Whatnot credit using my link.
Both options are great, and certainly better than wish.com!
The bottom line
I hope this guide empowers you to make informed decisions when collecting silver and avoid fraudulent deals. Remember, it’s not just about saving money— it’s also about preserving the integrity of our cherished hobby and investment.
Now, remember that these methods apply to coins, but obviously fall short when it comes to checking the silver and gold content of jewelry, watches or family heirlooms. For that, an acid test’s your best bet.
Happy silver picking, everyone!