Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tibetan Silver ?....Or ?????

Recently I've become aware of a new "item" called Tibetan Silver. I've seen it advertised in a number of bead shops, on e-bay and even on etsy. But when I saw the prices on jewelry components that proclaim they are "Tibetan Silver" I realized that something was amok...silver could not be so cheap !

Out of human curiosity I looked it up on the "net" and lo and behold most Tibetan Silver is not silver at all. Guess that's like all those fancy Quartz that starting showing up a few years back. Many were not quartz at all but just glass while others were a man made material. Think: Cherry Quartz, Strawberry Quartz, Blueberry Quartz, Pineapple Quartz...if it's fruity chances are it's man made !

Below is the info regarding Tibetan Silver...buyers beware :
Click this link Tibetan Silver to read more and see photos of Tibetan Silver items.

If link isn't functioning, the online article reads :

Metallurgical testing of twelve items offered for sale on EBay as Tibetan Silver indicates that these articles frequently contain no silver whatsoever. In addition, test results from the initial tests in 2007 found that high levels of lead and other dangerous metals such as arsenic can be present.

Because of their beauty, it's no surprise that jewelry items sold as "Tibetan Silver" have appeared for sale in increasing numbers in trade publications and on the Internet. The description appears especially popular online, but the products offered under this designation run the gamut of what appear to be authentic silver work done in a vintage Tibetan style, to poorly made contemporary castings of dubious origin. As the buyer you are at risk of being misled into paying for items that may be grossly misrepresented either in terms of materials used or geographic authenticity. If you think that the item being sold as Tibetan Silver actually contains any appreciable amount of silver read the following information.

Protecting Your Health

Genuine Tibetan silver is often made from Sterling silver, which consists of 92.5 percent silver. Any metal can make up the remaining 7.5 percent non-silver portion, though copper is the most common one. Unlike Sterling silver, which is used in jewelry because of its combination of beauty and durability, a great deal of what is marketed as "Tibetan Silver" comes no where close to matching the quality of Sterling. The actual silver content of "Tibetan Silver" can be as low as 1 or 2 percent and/or the core material may actually be tin, zinc, copper or nickel alloys, which allows the item to be sold for much less than those containing significant amounts of silver.

In fact, as part of a larger investigation into items offered for sale on eBay that infringed on copyrighted designs, TierraCast, Inc., a California-based manufacturer of original design lead-free pewter beads, findings and components, retained Metallurgical Laboratories, Inc. of Concord, California to test seven items purchased from six different eBay and Etsy sellers in April of 2007. (It should be noted that all seven of these items were clearly cast components, singled out for examination and testing primarily because of copyright infringement issues. Though a wide range of other jewelry and ornamental items are also advertised as Tibetan silver, no attempt was made to determine the actual metal content of those items.) All of the test items bore indications of overseas manufacture; only two were shipped directly from China, the others where shipped from the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

No silver was found in any of the tested items being marketed as Tibetan silver. Instead, in six samples, nickel, copper and zinc were the dominant metals identified by XRF (X-ray fluorescence) analysis on the areas of exposed core material of these pieces. The seventh item, shipped from Hong Kong, contained 1.3 % arsenic, a powerful poison and carcinogen and, an alarmingly high 54% lead content. Copies of certified test results are available upon request from TierraCast, Inc.

Additional tests were conducted in April 2009 using five different items purchased at random from three different eBay sellers offering Tibetan Silver. Metallurgical Labs also tested these items using XRF analysis and found the following results for the most common metals, expressed in percent. Note that only sample #5 contained anything over 1% silver.

So, as they say; "all that glitters is not gold" this case; not silver ! If the price seems too good to believe it's silver, then there's a very good change it isn't.


  1. Arsenic? Upwards of 54% lead? In jewelry? Yikes, that is scary. Thanks for the 4-1-1 on this, very disconcerting indeed.

  2. Great to discover your blog! Ugh, arsenic... :(


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