Sterling Silver Fraud
I want to warn buyers about a sterling silver fraud being perpetrated on ebay of late. It pertains to all-metal styles, like chains, collars, silver-only bracelets etc. A stampede of Chinese sellers is inundating the marketplace with silver *plated* copper jewelry misrepresented as 925 sterling silver, in other words, they market it as 92.5% pure solid silver (Edit 3/6/2011, lately I am also seeing some US sellers perpetrating this fraud). The most insidious part of this scam is that the jewelry is actually stamped '925', giving the buyers a false sense of security, not to mention it is illegal.
Feedback doesn't weed out the scammers, most buyers trust the '925' hallmark implicitly so these vendors actually get good feedback. Soon plating wears off and jewelry and skin starts turning black but most often feedback has already been left. (Edit 8/19/2010, Ebay has recently made it easier to view neutrals/negatives by clicking the links inside the feedback box. If you see -any- comments about fake sterling be very cautious purchasing from this vendor)
What gives cheaters away is that many of them price their product at or even below the raw material price of silver. For example, a 10mm 20" figaro '925 sterling' necklace chain weighing 70 grams being offered for $12.99. As of the 12/05/2010, the world market price of pure silver stands at $0.94 per gram. In raw weight alone this piece would be worth nearly $66, not to mention.labor etc. Don't try to smelt this at Cash4Gold for a quick profit :)
If you have already purchased a silver piece from a vendor that seems to be to cheap to be true, multiply the weight by the silver world market price. If you are still not sure, find a tiny edge on the piece that you feel comfortable scratching (if it is real sterling then a small scratch can be easily buffed out). Just scratch it with some fine black slate or stone. Silver plated copper will immediately leave golden streaks since plating is thin, you can also see the copper in the scratch. Cheap, easy to use silver acid test kits are also widely available on eBay.
If the piece is not genuine these are the actions to take:
1) Insist on a full refund. Do not allow the seller to profit.
2) File a dispute with eBay. This is important. As of mid-2011 we are seeing bad sellers being kicked off eBay. Scammers like skyclub79, trmn83 and others have been suspended permanently. These actions by eBay are purely based on the feedback and complaints from buyers. Filing a dispute is easy and your best chance of making sure your grievance is heard.
3) Leave factual negative feedback to warn other buyers.
Only together we can clean up eBay
Good luck shopping and remember, buyer beware!
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