It’s been brought to my attention that Tibetan “Silver” may not always be what we thought we were purchasing. Genuine Tibetan Silver contains 92.5 % silver, and it quite expensive, but there are sellers out there, most likely unknowingly, selling items labeled as Tibetan Silver that actually have no silver content.
What started out as a copyright infringement case opened up a can of worms. The items that were in question were sent to a lab for tests. The results came back and the info wasn’t good. The items had no silver content what so ever. Nickel, copper and zinc were the dominant metals in 6 of the 7 tested items. A couple very scary added ingredients were found in the seventh. It was 54% lead and 1.3% arsenic !!! This offending item was shipped out of Hong Kong. I was told that copies of these finding are readily available from the company that did the testing – TierraCast, Inc.
Links of interest:
A way to test your items for silver content (found this in a forum post)
“Tibetan silver is only a name it does not guarantee any silver content, The country did not make advancement in technology or mining until the Chinese moved in. The silver content of any silver alloy will become obvious with time.
The lower the silver content the quicker and blacker the tarnish it even develops a greenish tinge, depending on the atmosphere and environment its been exposed to.
Quick simple test.
Get a genuine sterling silver item and a Tibetan, Bali, or Mexican silver item. Wet them. Place them on a plate with cut in half a hard boiled egg (free range eggs have a higher sulphur content so they work better) leave it stand under a glass dish turned upside down and watch. The lower the silver content the quicker it tarnishes.
Take the tarnished items and boil the in a dilute solution of sodium carbonate or bicarbonate, only the coinage silver (800 to 900 or sterling silver 925 content will revert back to a white silver surface. if it goes salmon colour then its a high copper alloy, stainless look will be nickle silver or stainless.
Two things to observe. 1) what colour did the tarnish go and how long it took by comparing a known against an unknown.
2) what colour did you finish up with after the soda carb test.
This test does not harm the metal in fact the soda carb test is used to clean and remove tarnish from silver.”
So please be careful from who and where you buy your Tibetan Silver from in the future. Lead is very dangerous and causes birth defects. Not to mention the side affect of arsenic !