Buyers of Chinese "Sterling" Beware!
© Jeffrey Herman

 

Fake Chinese sterling jewelry and holloware is a growing problem on eBay and rapidly spreading throughout the world. Marketed as sterling or 925, this merchandise is actually PLATED BASE METAL, as illustrated by its unusually low pricing and free shipping. Selling these fraudulent pieces will cancer the market and, very possibly, turn the general public off to legitimate sterling entirely.

The sterling or 925 quality mark that is stamped directly on the object or attached as a tag indicates that the entire piece is sterling, even if the seller says it's plated. If you intend on buying these plated Chinese pieces with this quality mark, it MUST be removed to make it a legitimate plated piece. The law in the United States says that if a piece is marked or has an attached tag that says "sterling" or "925," it must be SOLID sterling.

And something else to think about: Common sense would dictate that a chain like the one pictured below could NEVER sell for under $13 (based on a silver spot price of $27). But you'll see them offered on eBay for $1.99 every day. Some even include free shipping! Buyer beware!!!

If you're selling this fraudulent merchandise, you could be sanctioned by the Federal Trade Commission.


Above: Sterling chains rarely have this type of attached quality tag since it dramatically adds to the cost of the chain. You will more likely see an in-chain tag. These inexpensive chains may also have the quality mark on the clasp.


Above: Notice the copper showing through the plating of this new mint julep cup that was marked "sterling" on its  bottom.

If you cannot determine if an object is solid silver, consult a silversmith or jeweler who may use an acid test.

Unfortunately, eBay will not remove scammers selling this fraudulent merchandise to protect its buyers – thanks eBay!

File a complaint!

• Report complaints with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) about online and related transactions with foreign companies here. Non-English speaking forms can be found here.

• File a complaint with the FTC when dealing with an American company here. You may also want to contact your state's attorney general.

• If you purchased a piece on eBay, contact their fraud unit.

Buyer and seller beware! 

Jeff Herman, Executive Director
Society of American Silversmiths

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