Top 15 ways to distinguish melchior from silver at home, a comparison of melchior and the original, the pros and cons of imitation

Over the course of its existence, mankind has learned to create inexpensive analogues of elements that have a limited global supply. Lunar metal was no exception, and its "copies" have for some time been valued above the original.

Purchasing silverware, you should know how distinguish the silver from melchior and whether there is a significant difference between them.

History of the appearance of products made of melchior. Melchior as an imitation of silver, application

Melchior is called the "double" of silver because of its identical color and luster. It is used in kitchenware, coinage, jewelry, crafts, shipbuilding, and medical applications.

This alloy is non-corrosive, durable, and its key components are nickel and copper.

Sometimes small amounts of manganese and iron are present. Imitation precious metal does not react with salt and fresh water, gas environment. It has excellent casting properties, easy to polish.

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History of the appearance of products made of melchior. Melchior as an imitation of silver, application
Melchior and silver spoons

The date of creation of melchior is considered to be 1819. It owes its invention to two test scientists, Mayo and Shorter, whose surnames were used to form its name. According to some sources, the alloy was known at the dawn of civilization, but for unknown reasons it was forgotten for several thousand years.

The material has several varieties, the most popular of which are MH19 and MNZHMZ30-1-1. It is often confused with nesilver, another copper-nickel alloy, which differs from melchior in cost and some properties.

There are also "melchior alloys" - these are certain copper-based materials that are amenable to special processing in both cooled and hot condition. The best known among them are monel, constantan, and cupronickel.

Copper-nickel alloys are regulated by GOST 492-52.

Table: What is the difference, a comparison of the properties of melchior and silver

To find out what silver is different from melchior, it will be convenient to use the table:

CompositionSilver alloys may contain platinum, copper, and palladium in addition to the prevailing amount of lunar metal.It consists of copper, nickel, iron, manganese.
DurabilityIt is a soft metal, unstable to mechanical damage.It has a long wear life due to the nickel component.
PlasticityCharacterized by high ductility, surpasses gold in this indicator.The ductility index is similar to that of silver.
InertiaPractically does not react with other substances.It is characterized by high inertness.
Magnetic propertiesDoes not have magnetic properties.Does not have magnetic properties.
Anticorrosive propertiesIncreased resistance to corrosion. The value can vary for the worse based on the silver alloy ligature.Increased resistance to corrosion.
Thermal and electrical conductivityIt has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of all metals.Poorly conducts heat and electricity.
Antibacterial propertiesThe metal is distinguished by its bactericidal, antifungal, and antiseptic action.Does not have antibacterial characteristics.
ApplicationsChemistry, medicine, photography, jewelry, space industry, cosmetics, means of investment, production of commemorative awards.Medicine, cooking utensils, coinage. Jewelry, art, industry.
CostThe price of the highest quality varies about 37 rubles per gramFrom 20 kopecks per gram.
MarkingIt is abbreviated as "Cp". Products are marked according to the purity of the alloy. The following marks are provided: 800, 830, 875, 925, 960, 999."MELCH" or "MN.


Melchior alloy contains 5 to Z0% nickel, 0.7% iron, about 1% manganese, and the remainder is copper. The material is a solid solution that can be easily processed at all temperatures.

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Melchior Jewelry
Melchior Jewelry - Earrings


Imitation is superior to silver in strength due to the nickel composition. Its Brinell hardness is 58.8-68.9. Cutlery made of this alloy is more durable.


The alloy is amazingly plastic, this property is especially valuable for such technological operations as stamping, drawing, bending. The plasticity of the material ensures its wide application for manufacturing a wide variety of products.


The alloy is characterized by low chemical activity, so it is used in the medical field, for the manufacture of cutlery. Melchior cookware is always silvered because the copper in its composition can oxidize from contact with many foodstuffs.

Magnetic properties

The alloy consists of several elements, each with individual properties of magnetism. However, the leading position in the composition is taken by copper, which is unable to be attracted to the magnet. Therefore, melchior is non-magnetic.

Very rarely, weakly pronounced magnetic properties of the imitation precious metal can be observed. This can be caused by atypical percentages of the alloy elements. However, in most cases the material is not attracted to the magnet.

Anticorrosive properties

The material is highly corrosion resistant in dry gas atmospheres, fresh and salt water. The more nickel in the alloy composition, the greater the resistance to degradation.

Spoons and forks made of melchior
Melchior cutlery

Due to its anti-corrosive properties the material is actively used in shipbuilding. It is also used to create various cooling systems.

Thermal and electrical conductivity

Melchior has a melting point of about 1160 оC, has a low thermal conductivity. The material is more suitable for making cutlery than silver, because such utensils will heat up more slowly.

Antibacterial properties

The alloy consists of elements that do not have bactericidal properties. Nickel, copper, and manganese can have a negative effect on human health.

Therefore, objects made of melchior, with which a person will inevitably come into frequent contact, are coated with the highest grade of lunar metal.


Melchior is used in cookware, thermoelectric generators, electrical circuits, and coinage. Most modern silver coins - are melchior alloys.

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It is also used to create medical instruments, parts of marine equipment.


The current value of the material for 2021 - from 20 kopecks per gram. The price varies based on the values of copper and nickel on the world stock exchange.

Scrap metal shops and drop-off points accept melchior from 80 rubles per kg. Profitable markup usually begins with the surrender of the alloy from 40 kg.

Melchior dishes, such as teaspoons, can be purchased from 100 rubles apiece.

Spoons and forks made of melchior and silver
Melchior and silver


The letter designation of this alloy looks like "MELCH" or "MN". The designation "MNTs" is also used for branding items made of nesilber.

On foreign pieces of melchior you can see the marking "silver plated" or "new silver".

Top 15 ways to tell the difference and how to identify silver or melchior at home quickly and efficiently

How to distinguish melchior from silver at home? Externally, these alloys are almost identical, but there are many ways to distinguish them from each other.

Marking assay or MN abbreviation

On silverware you can see the three-digit hallmark, indicating the purity of the entire alloy.

The following markings are provided for silver: 800, 830, 975, 875, 925, 960, 999. Information about such a piece must be inscribed inside a figure that resembles a barrel. The stamp of the silver jewelry work may also contain the assay office code, the stamp of the assay certificate.

Melchior is marked as "MN" or "MELCH". The abbreviation "MNC" stands for an alloy of copper, nickel, zinc - nesilver.

Melchior "MNC" and "MELCH
MELCH (MN) - melchior alloy, MNZ - melchior analogue - nesilver

Green bloom on melchior in long-term storage

During long-term storage and from constant contact with water, the alloy can take on a greenish tarnish.

Silver, on the other hand, retains its natural color. It can only go darker if the composition alloy contains elevated amounts of copper.

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Needle check

Melchior items are often silvered, that is, covered with a layer of precious metal a few microns thick.

You can try scratching the object with a thin needle on the inconspicuous side. If a dark metal appears under the silver plating, it is melchior.

The scratch on the silver will be a lighter shade.

Reaction with nitric acid

Check with nitric acid requires precautions to be taken. It is recommended that you wear a protective mask and gloves.

You will need to scratch the piece and apply a drop of nitric acid to the spot. Silver reacts to the substance by darkening, while melchior will turn green.

Lapis pencil from the drugstore

The lapis pencil is an antiseptic that contains silver nitrates. If you swipe it on the surface of a silver piece, no reaction will occur. Melchior alloy will darken.

Lapis pencil
Flapper pencil to check the authenticity of silver

Smell of copper

Precious metal The smell of copper is not characteristic, whereas melchior smells of copper. The smell can be released by rubbing the piece.

Without taking the spoon out of the cup

Silver has a high thermal conductivity. Contact with boiling water heats the metal in seconds.

Melchior cookware is less conductive to heat, so it will heat up slowly.

A drop of iodine

Heavy sterling silver reacts to iodine by darkening, while melchior does not change color. Apply a drop of the substance to the least noticeable side of the piece, as the stain is difficult to remove.

You can clean silver from iodine with a solution of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide. The contaminated item is immersed in the solution for 20 minutes, then thoroughly rinsed and wiped dry.

Color test with chamois ointment

Sulfur ointment is an inexpensive remedy that can be purchased at any pharmacy. Melchior does not react to its components, silver does darken. The ointment should be applied to the surface of the piece, then left for an hour to show the reaction.

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Reaction to chamois ointment
Sulfur ointment and silver

Reaction to chalk

The precious metal reacts to chalk by darkening, while melchior does not change color.

Note that melchior kitchen appliances are silver-plated, so this kind of Check may not always authenticate precious alloy.

Rubbing the skin

Rub the product against the skin intensely. If dark streaks appear, it means that the alloy contains a preponderance of base metals. Silver, on the other hand, will not leave any marks.

Weight estimation

How to tell the difference silver spoon from melchior? Silver is a heavy metal, in its pure form it is lighter than lead, but heavier than copper. If you compare it and melchior by weight, silver is noticeably heavier.

Traces of rust

Precious metal does not rust. If there are rust spots on the item, it is not silver.

It is worth noting that melchior is also not susceptible to rust formation. Technically, only iron and iron-containing alloys can rust.

Melchior spoons and forks
Melchior cutlery

Color change in water

In an aqueous environment, the imitation precious metal will oxidize and take on a green hue. However, the reaction will not follow if a thin layer of silver is applied to the product.

The cost of the product

Price is a key criterion, since imitation silver is very inferior to the original in value.

For example, the cost of silver spoons starts at 2,000 rubles apiece. Similar spoons made of melchior start at 100 rubles.

It is interesting that in the 8th century BC, melchior instruments were valued more than silver ones, and the composition of the alloy was kept in the strictest secrecy.

If there are any doubts after checking the alloy yourself, the product can be taken to jewelry workshop. Professionals will be able to unmistakably determine the composition of the item.

Question and answer section

What is more expensive melchior or silver?

Opinion of an expert
Mikhail Petrovich Grishanov
Jeweler, Director of Grishanov & Co.
Silver, even of the lowest grade, will be more expensive. Any imitation of precious metals will always be inferior to the originals in value. This can be explained by the absence of a number of characteristics which only noble natural elements possess.

Melchior or silver which is better for cutlery?

Opinion of an expert
Andrey Seleznev
Chemical-technologist of the plant "Krasny Oktyabr" Volgograd
If melchior is used for the production of tableware, it is always silver plated on the surface of utensils of the highest standard. Melchior itself is superior to precious metals in terms of mechanical strength. Consequently, melchior tableware will last longer, while it heats less because it has a low thermal conductivity.
Silver forks and spoons

Is melchior silver or not?

Opinion of an expert
Pribrezhny Gennady Valentinovich
6th class jeweler
Melchior alloys are a combination of copper, nickel, iron, and manganese. They, like silver, are corrosion-resistant, have a similar color shade, and have a long service life.
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Their main difference is that melchior is an artificial material, while silver is natural.

Melchior - silver 0.1 what does it mean?

Opinion of an expert
Mikhail Petrovich Grishanov
Jeweler, Director of Grishanov & Co.
The number 0.1 indicates the precious metal content. It is likely that the item bearing this mark was silver-plated.

So 0.1 part of the whole item is silver and the rest is imitation silver.

What to clean silver and melchior at home quickly and effectively?

Opinion of an expert
Andrey Seleznev
Chemical-technologist of the plant "Krasny Oktyabr" Volgograd
Citric acid is equally good for cleaning silverware and imitation silverware. You need about 100 grams of citric acid per liter of water. Immerse copper wire in a container with acid, bring the liquid to a boil, and then immerse dirty objects in the solution for 20-25 minutes.

After the procedure, the objects should be rinsed with running water.

Pros and cons of melchior

The ubiquity of the alloy is due to its undeniable advantages:
Low cost, as a consequence - the availability of the general population.
Durability. This indicator imitation is higher than the original, the products of melchior have an increased resource of wear resistance, last longer.
Low thermal conductivity. This property allows the melchior dishes to heat up more slowly. It is much more comfortable to use such tableware.
Thickness of objects. The low cost of the alloy allows it to be used in large quantities, and melchior objects are usually more massive and more convenient to use.
Resistance to corrosion.
Excellent casting characteristics that allow you to create real masterpieces out of the material.
Various applications, the list of which is constantly expanding.
Externally indistinguishable from the expensive original.
Disadvantages include:
Despite its resemblance to silver, the alloy is not suitable for investment. The value of the precious metal comes from its limited quantity in nature, while melchior is created artificially from inexpensive elements.
Health Hazards. The metals that make up the alloy can accumulate in the human body and have a negative effect. However, objects for everyday use made of this alloy are treated with sterling silver, so they do not pose a threat to health.
It has no status. Imitation, even the most skillful, will always be valued less than the original.
Lack of useful properties of silver.
The appearance of plaque over time is observed.

Video: how to distinguish melchior from silver. fakes

Jeweler's report on the authenticity of silver

Molokanov N.M.
Molokanov N.M.
Jeweler, experience in jewelry manufacturing 26 years.
How can I tell the difference between silver and melchior? The difference between the metals can be detected immediately by comparing their cost. Silver is an expensive noble element, while melchior is an artful imitation.

You can distinguish metals at home with a fine needle. The scratch on the precious metal will be the same color as the item itself.

Genuine lunar metal is highly valued in many fields, but sometimes it is advisable to replace it with a cheaper counterpart.

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