Skip to Content

How to Tell If Something is Silver Or Pewter: 6 Useful Hacks

Sometimes it’s hard to determine a metal as it looks identical to another. Silver and Pewter are two such metals. They look so familiar that you’ll easily get confused while distinguishing them.

How to tell if something is silver or pewter?

There are various types of tests to determine whether a metal is a silver or pewter. They can be distinguished by color, chemical properties, acid tests, and so on. You can also recognize them by some specific marks on them. Magnet sliding test can be another option to test silver.

If you’re still struggling to find a way, don’t fret over it. We’ve described all these things in detail in this article. Let’s get started!

6 Tips for Differentiating Silver and Pewter

An average eye finds it difficult to see the difference between silver and pewter. But we are here to clear your confusion between silver and pewter. We’ve discussed 6 useful tips to help you differentiate between silver and pewter. 

Take a look at them-

Tip 1 of 6: Tarnishing

Tarnishing can be a way to find out whether your testing specimen is silver or pewter. With time, silver gets tarnished, but pewter doesn’t.

If the item you’re testing already has tarnished, you’ll be confirmed that it’s silver. Or else, it can be pewter or any other metal depending on the characteristics.

Even if the metal seems clear, you can leave it out for some period and find out. Because pewter won’t get tarnished over time. But silver will get tarnished.

Tip 2 of 6: Indicative Marks

Silver and pewter both have some marks which help to define them. This mark especially helps when you’re differentiating any jewelry.

Silvers can be marked with “.925” or “800” or “900”. The first one means that the material is pure silver. The latter two depict that the material can be a blend of silver and other metals.

The surface finish of the specimen also tells a lot. Silver has a smooth surface finish. On the other hand, pewter gets dent marks easily. So, if the surface isn’t smooth, you can identify that as pewter. There might be pockmarks as well.

Tip 3 of 6: Color Difference

Differences between silver and pewter can also be found in terms of color. This can be a possible way to differentiate them.

Silver usually looks very “silvery”. It’s a bright and shiny metal with a high luster. On the other hand, the pewter is nothing like that.

Pewter also looks silvery, but it’s not that shiny and bright. The shade of silver in the pewter is dull and dark.

So, by this method, you can determine whether the testing specimen is silver or pewter.

Tip 4 of 6: Acid Test

The acid test is one of the effective methods to find out silver or pewter. This can give an accurate result to determine the type of metal.

For this test, you’ll need a nitric acid test kit. If you’re wondering where to get this kit from, we’ve got you covered. Check out these products below to find out your desired kit:

Product 1
Product 2

Hope you’ll find a suitable kit from here to carry on the task. And be careful to choose the right acid. Don’t get confused about nitric acid with muriatic acid as it’s also used for cleaning.

Now it’s time to move forward with the test. Clean a certain portion of the metal specimen. Apply a drop of nitric acid on that portion cautiously.

After that, if you notice that the color of the acid has changed, then it’s silver. In the case of pewter, the acid’s color won’t change.

So, if the color doesn’t change you can easily determine the specimen as pewter.

Be careful while dealing with the acid. In case your skin gets exposed to the acid, it can burn. So, it’s better to be safe from danger.

Tip 5 of 6: Magnet Sliding Test

For this test, you’ll need a piece of magnet. This test works on a silver bar.

To proceed, take the specimen bar and angle it 45° with the ground. Then slide the magnet down the specimen bar. Now, if the specimen is silver, the magnet will slide down slowly. 

Because the silver doesn’t attract the magnet like cast iron. So identifying a Griswold skillet’s age and silver, both need neat observation.

Due to silver’s chemical properties, it will create a braking effect on the magnet. For that reason, the sliding of the magnet will be slowed down.

So, if you don’t notice such slow motion, you’ll be confirmed that it’s not silver.

Tip 6 of 6: Lighter Test

You can do this test very easily with the help of a lighter. Heat a specific portion of the specimen with the lighter.

If the specimen is silver, the lighter will leave a black stain on the heated portion. No such stains can be found if it’s pewter. Later on, the black stain can be removed by rubbing with a little vinegar.

So, these were the 6 tips to differentiate silver and pewter. Hope you found it useful.


Question: Can you clean silver with coke?

Answer: Yes, you can clean silver with coke. Take coke in a bowl and pour the silver in it. The acid present in the coke will get rid of the tarnish in the silver within a very few minutes.

Question: Pewter or silver – which one is heavier?

Answer: The density of silver is much higher than pewter. That’s why silver is heavier than pewter.

Question: Can pewter get discolored?

Answer: Pewter doesn’t take part in chemical reactions. Due to this reason, pewter doesn’t get discolored. It can be safely used with other metals.


There are various ways to find out the difference between silver and pewter. Discussing some of them, we represented how to tell if something is silver or pewter.

Hope you’ll be able to apply the tricks described here. For confirmation, it’s better to test using more than one method.

That’s all for this time. Have a good day!