Silver is a valuable precious metal and, as such, there are people who will try to pass off fakes as the real thing. There are several ways to test the authenticity of precious metals such as silver without damaging the metal itself. Since silver is nonmagnetic, you can use a magnet as a rudimentary authenticity test for silver.
Place the silver on a flat and clean surface to ensure no residual particles tarnish the metal or your results.
Pass the magnet very slowly and very carefully above the metal, avoiding contact with the silver to prevent tarnishing it.
Check the underside of your magnet to see if the metal has attached itself magnetically. Any attachment means that the metal is not silver, as silver is not magnetic.
If your metal passes the magnet test, it may be worth your time to take it to a trusted jeweler for further inspection. A professional jeweler will be able to verify the metal's condition, type, and value based on the current market.
Be very careful when handling silver, particularly silverware and other kitchenware, as it is only slightly harder than gold, and is subject to bending and denting -- which will lower the value of the silver.